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Does America Take Our Military Seriously?

Unprecedented Mediocrity

Probably not would be the short answer. However, short answers don’t make for very good blogs. The truth is, although America most likely does not take the Military seriously, I am ok with this. As a Marine Veteran of Iraq, one might expect I would have another response. However, let me explain. Now I know you have seen this picture of my Platoon before, 2nd Platoon Kilo Company 3rd Batallion 23rd Marines.  You see, on Unprecedented Mediocrity, there are 3 pictures I plan to use on a regular basis.  If you see this picture, this is my “Let me speak to you as a Veteran” picture.  If you see the one with myself and Corporal Curry smoking a Cigar, that is the, “Let me tell you a thing or two as a Marine” picture.  Lastly, if you see the picture of Marines on a C-130 heading into Iraq flipping off the camera picture, well, that is the “Now you pissed a Marine off” picture.  It’s a personal blog, I can do stuff like this.

The Novelty of War

There was a well written and much more scholarly article written in The Atlantic titled “The Tragedy of the American Military.” In it, the author points out as I have many times on this blog, that throughout the past decade of War, life for the average American was affected very little. Moreover, upon our continual return from War, the appreciation from fellow Americans for our efforts was often brief and somewhat superficial.  The Atlantic article was written by James Fallows and worth a read.

When my unit returned from Iraq in 2003, we landed at March Air Force Base in California. Upon exiting the plane, there were some fire trucks spewing columns of water, a few people clapping, and some men in suits whom I presume were politicians there to shake our hands as we walked by. It was a nice enough gesture I guess. Then upon returning to my hometown, I would run into the occasional person willing to buy me a drink. That was nice, I like free drinks.

However, since I got out of the Marine Corps in 2003, I watched a fairly remarkable thing take place. You see, in 2003, it was somewhat novel to be a War Veteran as the wars were fairly new to America. I think the appreciation was genuine as we were still in our post 9-11 God Bless America phase. But as the Wars continued on and became more violent and deadly than in 2003, I noticed from the sidelines as a Veteran as America began to check out and move on.   Sure you drag us out onto mid field during halftime or on stage for a political speech.  However, genuine interest doesn’t exactly ooze from your efforts as pictures of Kim Kardashian’s butt are breaking the internet with your attention.

Little Wars Gain Little Attention

Now to those of us who fought or served in these Wars, we scoff at the idea of our experience being little. After all, its been over 11 years for me and I’m still writing about it to this day. Facebook and the internet are full of military and veteran communities who enjoy exchanging witty banter, experiences, and the occasional actually frequent Grunt versus POG conversation. However fellow Veterans, let me just say that we have to be honest. America was affected very little by our service as they shared in neither the sacrifice or cost of War.  As happy as we are to provide content for your movies and video games, there was actually a lot more to it. Millions of kids in America will be disappointed to find out that our goal over there was to kill while surviving and not go Prestige mode on Call of Duty.

old manThis is not our fault Veterans. We can’t be called upon to fight the Wars and rally the public at the same time. We are not the early version of Captain America designed to sell war bonds. However, its here that I am torn. Is this what I want? Part of me thinks that it is noble of us to fight the wars while America gets to sleep in peace. Isn’t that the premise of the all volunteer military? Then, another part of me gets that same look of disgust Clint Eastwood had on his face in Grand Torino as he looked upon kids that don’t get it. Despite the fact that I am without answer, the fact remains true. The American behemoth barely felt a lump in its butt as it sat on our sacrifice in peace.

Time to Move On

Saddle up fellow Veterans. The world awaits us. Honestly, until our elected leadership commits this entire nation to war as easily as it does its military this lack of attention will not be changed. Those who enlist will fight for the joy of it and those who don’t will just do whatever they do. Look, I am not asking for a parade or anything. I am not even asking for free chicken strips from Applebee’s on Veterans Day. Full disclosure, I will still in fact eat my free chicken strips on Veteran’s Day because I like it, that’s why. But point is, I didn’t ask for it.

However, it is time as this chapter in our history starts to close for us Veterans to move on towards the next chapter in our lives. Having served in 2003, I might be a little further down that road than some, so let me just tell you that there is much life to be lived and it doesn’t have to be militaristic. I love the Terminal Lance comics as most of you do. They are funny, insightful and relevant. However, I think what makes them as appealing as any is that they are written and drawn by a Grunt done good. Namely, I think Terminal Lance is a shining example of a Veteran moving on to a new phase of his life and thriving. Embracing what the military offered him and yet chasing the rest that life has to offer. I don’t know the guy or have any idea whether he realizes he is an example to grunts as much as he is their entertainment, but I believe he is.

Veterans of these Wars will be impacting America for the next 70 years. They are already infiltrating Congress and who knows, maybe we get a President one day. Ahem, General Mattis. Start your business, grow your families, don’t forget those still in the fight, and stop waiting for America to wake up and understand us. Marines pride themselves on their ability to adapt and overcome. Well, there is one final great adaptation left. Overcome it all, and let’s proceed with our lives. After all, we earned them more than most.

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Jeff Edwards

18 Comments

  1. Freaking right.
    I’ve been saying a war tax should be implemented automatically whenever troops get called up. To not only pay for the war and the veterans, but too show that everyone needs to sacrifice.

  2. I had forgotten about the fire trucks Jeff. In November I was in the Company area for Weapons 1/2 to greet my Son, LCpl Zach Brown, as he returned from the last big depolyment of Marines from Afghanistan. I waited with another retired Marine who was also there for his Son. First of all, it seems that the next generation of veterans are born from the one before. This country really hasnt been truly vested in a war since that big one my grandparents were in. It still amazes me that we fight a war this long without a draft and no cool war songs. And as a veteran of 23 years I sometimes have to remind myself that I asked for everything i got, in one way or another, so I can’t complain. Also while waiting for LCpl Brown and my new friend’s Son we were reminded why we were happy to be retired. He was supposed to be released at 1300 and we stood watching them outside the Armory until sometime around 1900. The Marine Corps has a timeline that does’nt include punctuality for waiting families. So, the last big deployment, wars over, good job. Waiting to greet these fine young men was family. Not the news, not the public, no mention from ABC news, just family. Which to me was pretty fitting since the families were really the only ones who have had much to lose since this all started. But youre right, we all have to find a way to move on and I guess mine did’nt really start until I had my boy home safe. Good job as always Jeff.

    • Thanks Shane. I agree, its the WW2 Generation that knows what it is like for total mobilization. Not sure if or when we will ever see that again.

  3. Either the NCA goes to Congress for a War Declaration or simply limits their seemingly endless love of military expeditions as an expression of foreign policy to the limits within the 1973 War Powers Act.

    The other issue that this nation needs to confront is why only certain socio-economic classes are serving, fighting, and leading our military and naval services.

    • I certainly they thing Congress and the Executive should re-evaluate their roles in regards to War. It’s pretty convoluted now.

  4. Good talk.
    I don’t often state that I’m a former Marine but I was recently in my home town and at a place where a friend of mine worked (a former Marine) asking about him. I didn’t know the person who I was talking to. It was a new guy and he didn’t know me so he asked if I was also a former Marine like my friend.
    I replied yes and as soon as I did someone didn’t even miss a beat and said “thank you” to me. I still cringe at my reaction to this day. It didn’t sound insincere at all. But it sounded mechanical and there was an inadvertent change in my facial expression. I don’t know why but it rubbed me the wrong way. I know it shouldn’t and it’s one of the few moments I wish I could get back and do over.
    But you’re right. Only the people with friends and family deployed have any emotional investment in the military.
    I suspect this is in large part due to it having become fashionable to insult America or for Americans to be ashamed to be American.
    Ask any of them about 1983 and see what happens. Don’t say Beirut. Just ask them about the year 1983. And then ask them if they knew that our Marines walked around with inoperable weapons because we used to be so committed to peace in the Middle East. And that all these countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan have to do is step up and do their own police work and our boys will kiss the fucking ground when they come home.
    The internet is the new frontier for the waging of psychological war. Blogs post a picture of someone bleeding and they say that a US drone randomly targeted a school or a church or some such. And it gets a visceral emotional response from the person reading it. We are lagging far behind the liars who want to turn our people against each other. They are winning slowly but surely. The Islamic propaganda machine is in full force. The anti-America propaganda machine is in full force and a shamefully high percentage of our youth are eating it up hook, line, and sinker.
    I’m about to go off on an even deeper rant about these little hipster turds and their incomplete grasp of history so I’ll stop right there

    • Thanks for the comments. All are welcome here. I agree, 1983 would ring hollow for many. They would have no idea.

  5. The American public of today’s generation could not stomach what the Greatest Generation did for this country in WW2. Heaven forbid they give up their double expresso mocho latte capachino’s for one brief second let alone for 5 years. I agree with JoeGrind and there should be a War Tax and rationing of every single item that has value to the war in support of the Soldiers. I propose a draft just to fill the ranks of the reserve units that get called up, these troops would be used to support the homefront in times of natural disaster, all the pansy assed golden spoon fed mama’s boy should go to basic training and AIT to be called up just in case the shit really did hit the fan.

    I served my 20 in the Army as a medic with 3 deployments to Iraq with the First and Third Infantry Divisions.

    • Thanks for the comments Mark. With 3 deployments as a Medic to Iraq, I know you speak from first hand experience. I agree, the WW2 Generation sacrificed as a whole.

  6. The link to “Grunt versus POG conversation” is broken (http:// is repeated)
    Clint Eastwood’s movie title and the car’s name was Grand Torino not Grand Turino (Torino is an Italian city

    • Link fixed and I’ll take your word on Torino. Thank you Jesus!

  7. I think the title is very offiensive. We fight for American reguardluss who you are, or what you think. We fight so Americans can not take us seriously, that’s how bad ass the U.S. Military is!

  8. Well spoken friend! You said that you served in 2003, and you may be “further down the road” than some. I served in the GW with the 101st back in 90-91, and am also a bit further down the road…but the road never ends, IMHO. I certainly did not see 1/10th of what you and our brother warriors went through in recent years, did not experience 1/10th of what our predecessors in the Vietnam war experienced…but all war leaves marks. Your blog post just shows the separation of civilian and warrior. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Rakkasan!! D-1-187 Inf Regt.

    • Well Said Jeff. Even as a Grunt in 03, I didn’t see 1/10th the action of some. None of us get to chose where and when our units deploy. We simply answer the call and serve when its our time. Whatever comes from that is often not up to us. Thanks for you words brother glad to hear you are further down the road and doing well.

  9. Great read. I feel that too many veterans let their service be the apex of their life. I feel conflicted as well. One doesn’t sign up to be an 03 during wartime for the notoriety. The empty thank yous and various standing Os at sporting events leave me confused as to what the military and getting shot at actually means to civilians. You’re right, if the general populous is never asked to sacrifice anything, they’ll never truly know the cost of going to war.

    The Marine Corps has been, and will remain to be one of the greatest chapters in my life. I’ll never forget the men I served with. But it is time to move on, everyone else has.

    Semper Fi.

    • I agree Michael. There is an entire life to be lived ahead of us. Forward is the only way to go.

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