A new Congress has dawned in America and without a doubt veterans are on the march once more. With 19 new veterans being added to the mix, that brings to the total 95 veterans serving in the 116th Congress. Well, 96 if you force me to count the one Coast Guardsman. Remarkably, 48 of those veterans have served in the military since 2000 putting the GWOT generation in place to make a real impact on the future of this nation. As a fellow Marine veteran of Iraq myself, this pleases me to no end that the war which shaped a generation will be ever present in the minds of these representatives and Senators as they perhaps make decisions on sending the next generation of war. After all, there are not enough words to explain the pucker factor of hearing the snap and crack of a bullet flying overhead and those of us who have heard it will testify that it is a defining moment in your life. Should Congress decide to send my child to war I’d like them to really know what that means and that’s why wounded warriors absolutely make the best congresspersons on the planet.
A Little Field Talk for the Moment
Now, I’m going to assume that I’m talking to a largely veteran audience at the moment but I do think it would be helpful if you shared this article with all your non-veteran friends. So I’m going to speak loosely and somewhat unceremoniously about some matters because that’s how we talk in the field. No one gets offended and a more unvarnished truth couldn’t be found anywhere better than in the field. Newly elected Representative and Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch is freaking cool man.
There, I said it and you know it is absolutely true. I know SNL Pete Davidson got roasted for making fun of it, but that is not what I’m doing here. I thought you couldn’t find anything that screams more badassery than a Navy SEAL until someone done went and put an eye patch on a Navy SEAL. There is a certain authenticity of experience that illuminates from the man as a result and it will serve this nation and a generation of GWOT veterans well. Beyond the fact that he is solid principled man with views that I preference, his character was on full display for the nation to see in how he handled that Pete Davidson debacle. His retort of “Good rule in life: I try hard not to offend; I try harder not to offend” is a message this nation desperately needs to hear. Dan may rightfully take issue with my statement and that’s certainly his right. However, it is the following message I hope he and other wounded warrior’s in Congress will take to heart.
Not All Military Experiences are Equal
That’s not to say they are not all of value and service, but to say that the experience of being a veteran is universal in its experience is just not true. Not even in the area of awards do we find this equity. I am the proud owner of one Combat Action Ribbon. As far as I know, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer has the same number as me and yet, I suspect our experiences vary slightly. His is the stuff of which movies are made and yet my movie scene would be more like the “are we shooting” scene from Three Kings.
That is except for the fact that I never actually saw the little hadjis shooting at us in the dark of night. So if you are a veteran then you know this to be true, but if you are not a veteran understand that not all experiences are equal. Those without such experiences have no reason to be ashamed as we all go where and when we are told. However, those with such experiences and particularly those who have left a part of them on the battlefield are the reluctant owners of perspective that simply cannot be reproduced even among the broader veteran community. I submit to you that this is a necessary ingredient for Congress to effectively make decisions on matters of war and conflict. Dan Crenshaw may very like to have his eye back and trade in the patch, but the American people are better off for having such a man in Congress.
This Isn’t a Partisan Issue
I wear my biases on my sleeve here on the blog and those regular readers will know me to be a conservative-ish/libertarian-ish leaning man. That being said, this really isn’t a partisan issue at all. The American people are equally blessed to have a woman like Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth in Congress. She may very well support views that I oppose, but when it comes to war and conflict the nation should listen to the woman who left two legs on the battlefield. Even for those of us who fought in war, the primal nature of battle can leave many of with a certain romanticized memory of what was actually taking place. For wounded warriors, the romantic myth and lure of the past holds no power over their present reality. War is now and always has been hell and our cool GWOT photos ought not mislead us about the matter.
Calm down ladies, that was 15 years and 50 pounds ago. I am thrilled that there are 96 veterans in this Congress, but I am somewhat at ease that there are multiple veterans from both parties who live with the current reality of the war they fought. For it is in their hard earned experiences I can only hope and pray that my child will not be sent to war that need not be fought. Any congressperson can study economics, law or health, but the school of GWOT has all but come to a close. This class of veteran congress men and women of both parties can fight to the cows come home about all other issues, but when it comes to war they need to sing a loud chorus in unison. I love all our veteran congress people, but wounded Representatives and Senators hear me when I say I love you most. Throw in an eye patch and I just might vote for the man to be President one day. War is hell and too many of us have forgotten that. I pray these representatives make Congress understand on all our behalves but most certainly for our children.