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In need of 'smarter people than me'
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With the ever-expanding debt in the federal government, more talk has been generated about bringing home the troops – not being “the police force of the world,” etc.
At first glance, that all seems to be a good idea, but several other factors would play out if we drastically cut the size of our military.
After the termination of the Vietnam “conflict” (seemed like a war to those who were elected to participate), the term “reduction in force,” or RIF, became a reality.
Many members of the armed forces, especially the Army, discharged thousands of skilled military men, including helicopter pilots, aircraft mechanics who were no longer needed in just a “cold war.”
More than 5,000 helicopters were lost in Vietnam out of 11,000 rotary aircraft that served in that area of conflict. More than 5,000 crewmen lost their lives in these incidents.
I know that doesn’t seem possible, but just Google “helicopter losses in Vietnam” and you’ll see those depressing figures.
After facing odds like that, a quick “thank you” and a small monetary severance package, you were out the door – joining the jobless.
With unemployment figures above 9 percent, riffing several hundred thousand service members would not be a good thing for them or the country. Smarter people than me need to rethink those kinds of issues and ideas.
Changing the rules of military retirement has been mentioned as a necessary evil to cut the U.S. Department of Defense budget. One proposal, floated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was to let the military members serve their 20 years and defer their retirement pay until age 62.
Those young men and women had an agreement with the U.S. to go into dismal conditions anytime, anywhere under conditions that if they don’t stop a bullet in the next 20 years, they’ll get roughly half of their pay. The fact that the pay is substantially less than the private sector jobs doesn’t seem to make much difference with the decision makers.
One of our astute senators was asked on a local radio show his feelings about such a move. He said he only thing he knew about the proposal was what he’d read in the newspaper. I can only imagine a young soldier, airman or sailor, who has been deployed for 10 months or more, picking up his local paper and seeing his future being so lightly considered and under-appreciated.
It might be a better idea to consider cutting benefits for us old folks rather than the benefits of those we’ve trained to fight so well. Good luck to recruiters who have to sell a retirement program like this disaster that’s being proposed.
It seems like all the “solutions” to this debt crisis affect the senior citizens or the military, and there is only one conclusion to be made from this: The powers that be know that seniors and military folks don’t go out and protest by destroying property, occupying government buildings or just being obnoxious to get their way. In the military, you do what’s asked of you without question. Once again, smarter people than me need to rethink these kinds of issues and ideas.
I think history will bear me out that every time we fight a war, police action or conflict, it will be the “war to end all wars.” Or when we perceive there is no need for a standing, strong military, some nut job in a nut-job country will pop up and prove us wrong.
Before the cuts and riffs come again, I hope those powers that be put themselves in the combat boots these brave, young folks wear and try to find another place to cut the waste that is consuming our country.
The TV stations are real big on showing the returning warriors and families celebrating their return from deployments. But they neglect to show them leaving on a plane or boarding a ship for 10 to 12 months away from their families while tears flow from everyone involved. What about the loved ones left behind? How cruel is it to have them not only suffer the separation, but also do it on a budget close to welfare?
Will our government treat our military fairly or mistreat them? Time will tell, and all too often anymore I wonder if the D.C. beltway has smarter people than you and me to decide these important issues and come up with plausible and workable ideas and solutions.
Let’s all be in prayer for our country – especially our military members and their families.

Clark is a member of the American Legion Post 164 in Pembroke.

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