Thursday, March 15, 2012

Liberal Advice from a Conservative

Yesterday I went to a lunch for consultants and industry executives in New York City.  One of the men at the lunch knows I am a soldier and was giving me advice--on how to get all the money I can from the government.

He is a very Conservative guy.  He does not like President Obama particularly for the way he spends tax money.  Having made his Conservative credentials clear, he then said he was really pissed at Obama   because "Obama makes us pay a $200 co-pay for [Army medical coverage]."  This man is a retired colonel, owns a successful business and is eligible for Medicare.  He has private medical insurance plus Tri-Care (Army) and Medicare.

Then he asked how much of a disability payment I was receiving.  

I said "None."

He was shocked.  "You should be getting disability payments.  You deserve it."  

I explained there is nothing wrong with me.  

He said, "It might take two or three physicals, but you should at least get 20 to 40 percent."  

He does.

I know there are real Conservatives who actually don't want to take government money.  But this guy was clearly like the pork-barrel senator who campaigns as a fiscal conservative and votes for every bit of spending he can bring home to his own state.  Like the Amtrak riders who want a "Quiet-Except-for-Me" car on the train.  This guy is a "Stop-Government-Spending-Except-on-Me" Conservative.

Baby Killers

In December of 1973, I came home on leave shortly after being injured in a missile explosion in Utah.  I landed at Logan Airport wearing my Air Force uniform and bandages on my right hand and right eye.  I heard "Baby Killer" as I walked through the terminal.  The Mei Lai Massacre was how many people looked at soldiers at the end of Viet Nam War.

I went to dinner last night with a friend who is not military, but very pro military.  He brought up the Army sergeant who killed 16 Afghans.  He said it was a shame.  I said I was amazed it took ten years for it to happen--especially with Americans getting killed by the Afghans they are training.

Our soldiers, like our politicians are us.  Soldiers are not beamed in from a good planet and politicians from a bad one--which is how many people talk.  We have leaders whom we elect.  We have soldiers who go to our schools and live in our neighborhoods.  Politicians, soldiers, police, teachers and all of the rest of us who take responsibility for some aspect of public life bring humanity to that job--good and bad.  The soldier who turned his weapon on civilians was on his fourth combat deployment and was diagnosed with PTSD.  His fellow soldiers get killed and maimed by people who pretend to be civilians.

The dumbest thing I heard so far was from columnist and commentator Mike Barnicle.  He said "This is a failure of the chain of command from top to bottom."  As far as I could find, Barnicle has never been a link in any chain of command.  If any of his knowledge of the military was first hand, he would know how much everyone has to trust one another and that the men in his chain of command are not jailers.

American NCOs have traditionally had more responsibility and ability to take initiative than other armies. Of course freedom can allow people to do wrong, but that is one of the costs of freedom.  Our military patrols and protects the world with less than two million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen--including active duty, national guard and all reserves.  Soldiers with real responsibility and superior technology are the reasons we can do this.  Barnicle would have some sort of Soviet-style army where even the generals have no latitude.

I wonder if Barnicle could last through four combat tours, see his friends killed and maimed by terrorists and maintain his sanity.

Faith in the Military: Chaplains During the Cold War and the Current Wars

Army Chaplain with Armor Unit In the Cold War Army of the 1970s, the Protestant Chaplains were very different men...