I don't know what I can say here that Chris hasn't said. I'm an 80's veteran, too, and I understand completely.
“If Not Now, When?”June 3rd, 2007
I am honored to have stood with so many of my brothers and sisters at GOE I. The highest praise I can give is to say that it was the best St. Patrick’s Day I have ever had. For someone who has a daughter named Reilly Patricia, that is bold praise indeed. Since then I have been on the ground at a number of Gathering of Eagles events and have been a representative of GOE at others. This past Monday, Memorial Day, I was afforded the high honor of laying the wreath at three different memorials in Philadelphia. I was escorted by the Color Guard of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Society at all three events. The Society made me an associate member of their organization after GOE I in recognition of my efforts. Being made an associate member, and laying the wreaths were, to me, an honor of greater magnitude than a Silver Star.
Vietnam veterans have always been my Gold Standard for warriors. When I joined the Army in the mid-80s, my 1st Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant and Squad Leader were all Vietnam vets. My father served then, my uncle is Vietnam-era, and I have worn a POW/MIA bracelet since my junior year in high school. I take nothing away from The Greatest Generation; they saved the world. For me, though, Vietnam veterans have always been the standard of excellence. They came home to scorn and derision. They were unwelcome in the VFWs. They could have simply faded away into the night, but they decided instead to band together. They started their own organizations to replace the VFW, and built their own memorials to their brothers lost in a far-off land. They also said, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” I took that to heart, too.
Our brothers and sisters fighting in far off lands have recently begun to receive the treatment my Vietnam brethren suffered. The far left has started to blame them for the War on Terrorism. The chants of “baby-killer,” “war criminal,” and, lately, “bomb maker,” have been hurled at us at our counter-demonstrations. We all know that the Tet Offensive was a complete victory for US forces. After the Tet Offensive the Viet Cong were finished as an effective fighting force. Their number had been decimated, and yet members of the US media called Tet a US loss. Does the model sound familiar?
I have, therefore, taken as my personal mantra “BUY THE TROOPS SOME TIME.” I cannot claim to have come up with it. I heard someone else say it, and it resonated. If we truly wish to be the support for the troops we claim, if we truly wish to see our men and women in uniform come home victorious, we have to BUY THEM TIME TO WIN. Congress will be deliberating yet again on whether to extend the funding in Iraq come September. It is time for us, the veteran’s community and its supporters, to stand up and say, “WE WILL NOT ALLOW THE COUNTRY TO ABANDON ANOTHER GENERATION OF VETERANS.”
Deep in my heart I know there are millions of us out there who think this way. It is now time for us to ruck up and make a difference. Only 9% of the American population has ever worn the uniform. We probably have another 10% who did not serve but feel as we do. It is time to reach out to those who have yet to reach out to us. It is time for those of us who have borne too much of the load for too long to bear a little more. Without sufficient numbers Congress will do as they have always done. They will ignore us. Together though, we are impossible to discount. I promise to give it my all.
As National Director for Operations, I am on the go constantly. I collect frequent flyer miles and gas receipts faster all the time. I sleep 5 hours or so a night. I spend too many hours at my keyboard answering emails and putting out fires. I eat the majority of my meals on the go. I sometimes wonder if I am even making a dent in the armor of the machine that opposes us. Then I meet a Blue Star mom who says she considers herself lucky to be counted among our number, and then I meet a Gold Star mom who thanks me for my service. At that point I realize that the men and women currently in the fight need a champion. They need someone to stand up for them while they stand up for us. I know we are all too busy to take on one more thing, but if not now, when? If not us, who? This is a plea then for all of you who have said a hundred times, “I can’t let them do this to our guys.”
Accept one more mission. Sign up for the duration and help me BUY THE TROOPS SOME TIME.
Gathering of Eagles
National Director for Operations