Open Letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

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gatesVeterans Stand Ready to Help
A "Marshall Plan" for Our Heroes

Dr. Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington D.C.

Secretary Gates,

Our country has well over 20 million veterans of military service.  Veterans come from every walk of life, economic and educational level and age.  Veterans have served their country, in peacetime and war, having proven themselves, time and time again ready to sacrifice all for  the concepts of freedom, honor, country and their comrades in arms.

We are currently in a war not everyone agrees with nor understands.  This is the first war in well over 150 years being fought by an entirely volunteer army.  Whether everyone agrees with the nature of a war or its immediate goals, we all agree that the military fighting that war is our military, our fathers, brothers or children.

     

Over the past few months we have all become aware of problems with a military stretched to the limit with a relative few making sacrifices well beyond those that a free society should demand from any member.  We are also aware that the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense are seriously overburdened in their task of caring for the existing large veteran population along with the current influx of GWOT (Global War On Terror) vets, some facing social and economic crisis and some carrying scars, visible and not, requiring our every resource. 

Over 20 million American veterans, our countries greatest manpower resource, stand ready to serve as needed.  Hands that long ago held a weapon, stand ready, tempered by service and sacrifice and trained in every skill and discipline successful participation in a free society has demanded. 

America has a long history of service, overseas, certainly, thru the Peace Corps and other agencies.  We have a number of similar oganizations, some government agencies, some volunteer driven NGO's (Non Govermental Agencies…such as the American Red Cross and others) that have served when needed in America.

America now has that need.  Current agencies have proven incapable of performing the necessary tasks to support the ever expanding demands placed on them after years of war.  In truth, our country has mistakenly gone on, "business as usual", free of rationing, metal drives and a military draft.  The "bill has become due" but few stand ready to pay.

We have thousands of seriously wounded reentering our communities.  We have hundreds still receiving treatment and processing, many under less that acceptable circumstances.  We have thousand of veterans who are homeless and unemployed.

We may also have thousands, perhaps many thousands, who might join the tens of thousands of Vietnam War PTSD sufferers, many of whom died needlessly while denial and ignorance sent them to early graves. 

Volunteerism is a far more powerful tool than throwing money and "special commissions" at every problem.  We have a resource to use to save a resource we can't afford to lose.  Successful veterans from every walk of life are ready, willing and more than able to make a difference, in more ways than has ever been considered.

Veterans have always turned to other veterans.  Bureaucracy, no matter how professional, how caring or well trained does little more than create despair and dependency.

We are asking that you establish a national registry of veterans volunteers.  Its time we called on our best, those with maturity, experience and proven capability.  Our only other options are to look away as has been done so often in the past or, worse yet, throw money and well meaning intentions at a challenge that may burden us with more problems than solutions.

Changes in our society have left too many feeling powerless or, worse yet, directionless.  Our veterans stand ready to serve at every hospital, every clinic and in every community.  Many veterans that were able, even those in their 50's are serving in the current war.  Many more, not able to serve in uniform stand ready.  They only wait to be asked.

There is a warning that sits in all of our minds.  If we fail to take care of this army here and now, asking again, perhaps when the need is great, may fall on deaf ears.

G. Duff

USMC/Vietnam


 

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Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades. Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world's largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues. Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than "several" countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.