Magazine article Editor & Publisher

On the Latest Walter Reed Revelations: Go for the 'Sack'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

On the Latest Walter Reed Revelations: Go for the 'Sack'

Article excerpt

Let's get this straight once and for all: With great power comes great responsibility. The President and the Congress have the power to send America's fighting men and women to war. They also bear the responsibility for caring for those troops and their families.

It's their duty to make certain that the families of those who fall in battle don't fall through the cracks. They also have a sacred obligation to see that those who are wounded or injured in service receive the finest medical care that a rich nation can provide.

And while we're restating what should be clear and obvious, the politicians also have a responsibility to make certain that the Veterans Administration takes good care of the veterans of the wars gone by-- World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War.

This is our nation's contract with those who bear the burden of protecting and defending the rest of us. If the politicians can't be trusted to get that right all the time, what can we trust them with?

It's the responsibility of all the rest of us to ensure that the politicians and the generals do their duty - and if they don't, then to ensure that their heads roll swiftly.

Those who fail in that honorable mission should be rooted out, called before Congress to deliver whatever lame excuses they can muster, and then sacked. They don't deserve respect or high office or rank, let alone fat pensions.

Only about three-quarters of 1 percent of all Americans wear the uniform. They're volunteers who take on great hardship and deadly risk with selflessness, and for the most part they're proud to do the job.

They're not mercenaries, as some would have us believe. They're not, as former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld put it: fungible. They're not interchangeable faceless parts of a machine that eats money and spits out death and destruction.

They're our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters; our grandsons and granddaughters. They're the best of their generations, and many thousands of them have been sent into the cauldrons of Iraq and Afghanistan two or three or four times during the past six years.

Every time they go, they leave behind spouses and children who must make do without dad or mom for a year at a time. They leave behind families who have to live with the terrible fear that a military sedan could pull into their driveway any day, carrying a chaplain and an officer and news that will break their hearts and destroy their lives.

This week is replete with even more evidence from the press of gross failure and neglect on the part of those who are charged with carrying out our obligations to them. …

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