Never a day off

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What if you woke up one morning and opened your newspaper and turned on your television set to find that the U.S. military decided to take the summer off?
by Donna Teresa

They decided to take a much needed break from all their duties all over the world, including back at home. Civilians would be left with the responsibility of securing our borders, fighting terrorism and helping with natural disasters.

Sound crazy? It would never happen here?

Don’t be too sure.

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without our armed forces protecting us. We have taken advantage of their unselfish service to this country for far too long.

The media is covered with stories about the incident at Haditha. No one excuses bad behavior in any occupation, and those guilty will be judged for their actions. However, the other 99.9 percent of the military should not be judged or unfairly labeled because of the mistakes of a few…

     

Perhaps civilians and government officials should trade places with a combat soldier to know what their state of mind is and the horrific circumstances that many must face every day. We saw the stress that soldiers who served one tour of duty in Vietnam experienced, and many are still suffering from those problems.

Today’s soldier serving in the Middle East must return for combat duty two to four times. The mental stress is overwhelming.

The message I hear time and again from combat veterans is “if you haven’t been there and done that, then you really don’t know what combat is all about.”

If it makes America uncomfortable what war does to the mind of a soldier, then don’t create war. This country sent them, they didn’t ask to go. A country that engages in war better be prepared to handle the state of troop mental health during a war and after they come home.

So, the next time a flood occurs, civil unrest happens or there is another war to fight, you can count on the armed forces to be there, no questions asked, even if it isn’t always appreciated.

No, the military is not going on vacation, as I was only trying to make a point.

But, I wonder how many of us would be willing to trade places with them and step into their shoes if it did happen.

American troops have been loved, hated and criticized, but despite any opposition, they have always been proud to serve. They remain committed in protecting the American people and others all over the world. We, as civilians, need to do a better job in trying to understand them and appreciate their contribution to the safety of this country.

We must never forget the the men and women who are serving this country and making a difference, like Maj. Stephen Grabski, S3, Task Force, Catamount, serving in Afghanistan with his unit.

When I think of his soldiers building schools one day and facing danger the next, I remember a quote from Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross and advocate of serving Civil War soldiers: “I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.” No soldier can request time off from war whenever they feel like it.

While we are enjoying our summer vacations, give thanks to the men and women in uniform all over the world who will spend their summer in harm’s way for you and for me.

Let’s be there for them, as they have been there for us.

Go to: montereyherald.com to read Donna Teresa’s column.

 

 


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