ARE YOU FEELING A DRAFT….?
By Joe “Ragman” Tarnovsky STAFF WRITER
Today in our country most Americans are detached from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while the all-volunteer military pays a high price with multiple combat tours in those war zones. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made that same statement recently at Duke University in North Carolina and added, military service is seen as “something for other people to do.”
Americans serving in uniform today have been deployed to war more than any other generation of veterans, multiple times, and the military keeps sending them. The military from time-to-time resorted to the STOP-LOSS provision, involuntarily extending the service member’s active duty enlistment beyond their initial service contract to retain them on active duty. Men and women in today’s military have been separated from their families numerous times with repeated exposure to combat which can increase their chance of Post-traumatic stress disorder, TBI (traumatic brain injuries), loss of limbs and that is if they are lucky enough to survive in the first place.
The government is taking notice of the cost of the all-volunteer military but, I believe, the cost they are looking at first is in dollars and cents and not the cost of lives lost and lives changed forever. The Department of Defense must spend much more money for large bonuses and educational entitlements to attract and retain people in our all-volunteer military today because of limited human resources.
The United States has 2.4 million personnel serving currently in the military and that represents less than one percent of the total population of our country. Far too many Americans do not see serving in the military as their duty so the monetary cost of maintaining an all-volunteer military has doubled since 2001 when the United States went to war in Afghanistan, from 90 billion to 170 billion spent on personnel and entitlements.
Defense Secretary Gates calls this increased expenditure for the troops a “sacred obligation” then added, “But given the enormous fiscal pressures facing the country, the nation must devise an equitable and sustainable system of military pay and benefits that reflects the realities of this century.” When Secretary Gates used the term “equitable and sustainable” referring to military pay and benefits (his word) ENTITLEMENTS (my word) what does he mean? Lowering the pay and ENTITLEMENTS? If the government does that, I think that will have a direct correlation on new enlistments and I believe the government knows that too.
There will be fewer people willing to enlist, and I do not blame them, if the incentives of pay and ENTITLEMENTS does not make it worth putting their lives on the line if they must go to war. As far as I am concerned, our military today, even with the higher salaries, is still underpaid for what they do when you compare them to the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, DC and what they get paid for, and what they do. I think the term “equitable and sustainable” could be referring to a possible draft in the future, with mandatory service the government could lower the pay and ENTITLEMENTS as they would have a readily available group of men, possibly women, they could fill the ranks with, and not have to offer these bonuses and other ENTITLEMENTS that are now a must to keep luring new recruits and retaining experienced personnel while expanding the “burdens of war” to others.
Now having said the draft would expand the “burdens of war” to others, we all know that the “others” would not be the children of the rich and politically connected. A draft, even if they proclaimed it would be fair during their “dog and pony” show presentation, would continue to be like it was during Vietnam with many outlets for the children of the rich and powerful in our country to escape mandatory military service or to get comfortable assignments far from the fighting sitting behind a desk. From the first draft that was ever established in America by the Confederate States of America and up to and including the draft during Vietnam, there have been deferments and ways imbedded in the draft laws to allow people to escape and evade military service.
Even though all males were needed during World War 2 and no one was deferred, there were still inequities in the type of duty assigned and those that had powerful connections could often avoid the mud and blood of war. So if the government re-establishes a draft, young males had better be prepared as the offspring of the rich, famous and powerful will once again get preferential treatment even if favoritism is done underneath the table or behind closed doors.
Our all volunteer military is not working in the respect that the government is wearing out the young men and women that have to perform multiple combat tours. In terms of pure bravery, fighting ability and patriotism, the military today is second to none from America’s past generations of warriors, but our military is at the breaking point emotionally and mentally with having to complete tour after tour of combat duty while others eligible to serve and fight do nothing. Our government wants to act like they care about the individuals in the military and having to “bear the burden” of war but in reality, the government wants to put an end to higher salaries, bonuses, educational and other entitlements needed to maintain an all- volunteer force. The solution, a DRAFT. I believe a draft is coming and sooner not later.
Joe ‘Ragman’ Tarnovsky
Joe is a Vietnam Combat Veteran, having served 26 months in the Republic Of South Vietnam, 10 months with Company A, 27th Combat Engineers, 28 August 1968 to June 1969, and 16 months as a crewchief/doorgunner with the 240th Assault Helicopter company on UH-1C Hueys, the Mad Dog Gunship Platoon from July 1969 to 22 October 1970.
Joe graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in 1982 with a Associate Of Arts Degree and from Cleveland State University in 1986 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology; he also accumulated 12 hours of graduate work at Cleveland State. He lives with his best friend, his wife, and they have 34 rescued cats, 7 rescued dogs.
Joe has spoken at high schools and colleges for 25 years about PTSD, war and how not to treat returning veterans when they come home to America after fighting for their country.