Being a Vet and the mother of an active duty deployed soldier, my heart (and mind) is drawn to stories concerning our military members. One, is a story of a discharged Marine, Jose Guerena Ortiz, brutally murdered by a local SWAT team for no real reason. The other, is little more than a “Libertarian” rant against the military in general, and his notion to close our various (and many) international bases around the globe as a means to reduce military suicide.
We have two related topics vying for attention as they concern our military. One topic is the apparently increasing evidence of rogue local law enforcement in violation of individual rights. This honorably discharged Marine responded as any reasonable American might, armed with his 2nd amendment rights, he took up arms to protect his home and family … and paid for it with his life. How about a little COMMUNICATION here, folks! You better believe, if someone showed up at my home brandishing a weapon, mine would be in my hands, too! Perhaps our valiant local police (for which I’m very grateful!) simply need to be reminded of our right to bear arms as private citizens? SWAT team’s shooting of Marine causes outrage [Jose Guerena Ortiz]
Then there is the issue of our military involvement in foreign nations. This issue is tougher. Theoretically, it goes back to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel and the ethical question of, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”In the last few decades, since the end of WWII, the US was arguably the most powerful nation, with the Soviet Union a close second. Seemingly every little skirmish abroad brought the US in to settle the dispute, rather as a referee. However, it seems that as our military might has slowly declined, the part the US plays in these disputes has changed. No longer are we the adviser or coach along the sidelines, but our “Supersized Military role” has become more inclusive and intrusive. While I in no way agree with the total and complete recall of all our troops in foreign lands, I do believe it a wise thing to RE-EVALUATE the strategic placement of troops to protect American interests abroad. Since America sits on plenty of untapped domestic oil, it may no longer behoove us to play watchdog over the oil in the Middle East. However, since Israel is our #1 ally, we may wish to have some presence nearby to back them up in time of need.
I am not fluent in the knowledge of how many troops are where doing what, but I imagine cutbacks could certainly happen in this arena. Fewer, but larger strategically placed bases to use as refueling points or humanitarian drop sites and even as field training zones are reasonable. I’m thinking of Germany, though, and the dozens of bases from hundreds of thousands of soldiers to those with just a couple hundred. Are they really ALL necessary? Again, it seems like a logical and feasible place to implement military cuts.
Cuts do not address the suicide issue, however, but clarity of mission, would. The general and simplistic reason for suicide is low morale. There are a number of variables in the equation of a healthy psyche. If our military mission is simply, and clearly to protect and defend the US borders and the US interests abroad, deployed soldiers would KNOW why their deployment was valid and meaningful. One variable. We all function better when we have an understanding of what’s going on. Today, the glue that holds these troops together is a very basic loyalty to one another, not necessarily to the US or to the vague and politically motivated, and ill-stated mission.
Another variable is the political slant to military involvement. POLITICIANS CANNOT WAGE an EFFECTIVE WAR! Politicians decide when, where and who … the military leaders take it from there! It was during the Vietnam era that the media became a vital military weapon, unfortunately, usually used against our own troops. The riots and demonstrations of the 60’s and 70’s sucked the morale from the troops and disrespected their lives and their deaths. By showing and telling the ugliness of real war, they may have hoped for something good to come of it, but that’s not what happened.
In recent years, the media has been more subtle in its approach. While questioning the intent of the wars under the Bush era, they’ve all but ignored the conflicts entered into by the Obama administration. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed the burden media members put on battle-alert soldiers who are made responsible not only for their own troops, but also the non-military trained reporters who seek the journalistic goldmine in the heat of battle. Get them out of there!!! They can sit safely back at HQS and await the soldiers’ tales! We (the public) can’t handle the TRUTH of battle! Honestly! Public opinion is not an effective weapon either!
What constitutes American military involvement abroad? Which buttons must be pushed to ignite military activation? If I’m not mistaken, the answers lie in the US Constitution!
BOTTOM LINE: War is NOT pretty. It is not glorious, but on occasion, it is necessary. It is inevitable that soldiers are parted from their loved ones for a given period of time. EVERYTHING should be done to limit the duration of these deployments and their frequency. Improvement in communication between deployed service members and their families and loved ones, though not necessarily the responsibility of the Armed Forces, should be seen as a vital morale link for non-profit organizations to fill. Upon RE-ENTRY AND REINTEGRATION, service members AND their families ought to have mandatory psych evaluations that consist of group sessions for, perhaps, as much as 6 months to unload unwanted, unneeded emotions, coping mechanisms, and psychological defenses and ease the “experience” gap many service members feel.
The most common sentiment I have seen is a horrific guilt the men and women carry for what they may have seen, heard, or done in a battle zone. Many are certain they have done absolutely unforgivable things. These soldiers must be told repeatedly that rules are different in war. Since troublesome thought patterns or issues are often difficult to detect, routine supervised group de-brief/chats should extend for several months upon re-entry whether the service member is discharged or not.
CONCLUSION: As long as men are men, war will exist because one will always want what the other possesses. Whether on the individual scale, corporate scale or the national scale, that’s what war boils down to. GREED!