Tag Archives: Kool-aid

A letter from an American Soldier

I received a well written letter yesterday from an American Soldier. It was addressed to me, but I thought I’d post his arguments for general comment.

Mr. Verlo,

I stumbled upon your website by a pure stroke of accidental misfortune while searching for current news on the Fort Carson Installation.. My wife, my son and I are from Colorado, and I am an American Soldier. I am college educated and studied Middle-Eastern history, and I am well versed as it pertains to Mesopotamia, global-terror and global insurgencies.

I have deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. In 2003-2004 I served in Al-Fallujah and Ar-Ramadi in the Al-Anbar province, and in 2005-2006 in Tal’afar in the western Ninewah province with the 3d Armored Cavalry from Fort Carson (maybe you heard about the letter that Najim Abdullah wrote to George Bush about my unit?).

I spent seven months in Afghanistan training Afghani Security Forces, and would go back again to either country to serve for one reason only: to support my Soldiers. Although I am career-military, I do not now, nor did I ever support the Bush Administration or the pretenses under which we invaded Iraq. But, unfortunately, our elected officials thrust us into this mess, and we (Americans and American Military alike) are essentially left to deal with it. I am writing to you to comment on a few articles that you have authored, and provide my own opinions and citations.

First, in your article titled: “It’s in the Percentages”, you note that “apparently” 30% of Soldiers don’t have a high school education, 30% are returning with PTSD and 25% percent of their children are considered “special needs”. These are very interesting statistics, yet, you provided no citations. You go on to state that (and I quote): “I find it an absolute nightmare to imagine soldiers in positions of authority, making life and death decisions over others, who don’t know right from wrong, history from high stakes poker, or intelligence from drunken stupor. How do you reason with someone whose only motivation is their next beer?” and “It’s a war crime to subject civilian populations to rule by incompetents”. Again, very interesting. Here are some solid statistics for you, as well as citations. I chose to contrast military service members to college students in this case, but the same could be applied to any demographic (i.e., individuals who were recently laid off nation-wide, or illegal immigrants).

– 40% of college students who come from middle to upper class families engage in binge drinking on a regular (weekly) basis, as opposed to 26% of military personnel who have recently returned from combat tours overseas, where they suffered some sort of physical and/or emotional trauma (ABC news poll, 2007/2008). In addition, over 22,000 service members have called suicide hotlines in an attempt to get help (VA poll, 2008).

– 20% of college students engage in heavy drug use, as opposed to less than 5% of military personnel (ABC News Poll, 2007).

Here’s my favorite one:

3% of all college women report sexual assault at some point in their college career. In 2007, there were 2,212 reported cases of sexual assault on military installations by service members. In a military that exceeds roughly 2,000,000 people, that’s less than 1%.

Second, in your article titled: “Turning out to support fewer Troops”, you allude to Soldiers “riding in on a black cloud”. Hmmm, I’m not quite sure I understand that one. Is this a reference to the environmental damage we do with our vehicles, or the perceived “evil” that we bring with us because we are all, in fact, rapists, murderers and psychopaths?

Third, in your article titled: “Colorado Springs Military Community”, you state that (and I quote) “FIVE MAJOR MILITARY INSTALLATIONS ALREADY AND THE CITY AND COUNTY ARE BROKE”. El Paso County is broke? Since when? I would love to see a citation in reference to this one, because I have “Googled” it to no end and have found nothing that would lead me to believe anything but the contrary. The Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation reports that: “Colorado Springs has a 3.1 million labor force within an hour radius, a Fast track permitting and planning program (30-60 days), 27 Fortune 500 Companies and a quality of life which is 70% the cost of coastal communities” (CSEDC 2008).

Sir, I have read your opinions on the media (many of which I share with you, by the way), so I would presume that you think this is a fabrication. Here’s the bottom line; the military presence in Colorado (the big, scary war-machine that we are) boosts the economy of the area due to its service members buying cars, houses (and paying taxes on their properties), shopping at local businesses, applying for and receiving loans from local banks, etc. There is no doubt in my mind that if the military left Colorado Springs, the city would continue to thrive, but the economy would noticeably decline anywhere that 30,000 people leave, military or not.

Fourth and final, in your article titled: “On Jan 14 let us not expand Fort Carson”, you state that more military in the area would make (and I quote) “Colorado Springs even more dependent on poor paying jobs, predatory businesses, and skyrocketing social problems. Only developers, car-dealers, pawn shops, strip clubs, liquor stores, social workers, jails and mortuaries benefit from a higher soldier population”. Wow, seriously? These are only issues tied to the influx of more military in the area? So, if 3,000 recently released convicted felons chose Colorado Springs as their new home, it would have less of an impact? Or how about 3,000 illegal immigrants, or 3,000 pregnant teenagers?

Well, let’s go ahead and analyze this a bit further. Developers and car-dealers will benefit from ANY new arrivals to the area, not just military. In reference to pawn shops and strip clubs, the owners of these businesses know exactly what they are doing by placing them outside of military installations. Service members are targeted by these establishments. That’s why they are placed where they are in the community. The same can be said for pay-day loan houses and used car dealerships on Powers and Academy blvd. But if you placed strip clubs next to colleges, would it still be the military that held the higher attendance record? It’s all about business strategy my friend, not the assumption that all military service members are sex-crazed, alcoholic lunatics.

Social workers, jails and mortuaries benefit wherever there are people with problems, criminals and people who have died. I suppose that again, it’s only military who fall into these categories. Ah yes, and our children are even more screwed up than we are. The fact that you said (and I quote): “The rest of us suffer increased crime and their children’s behavioral problems in our schools” vividly displays your utter incompetence and lack of any compassionate notion. You realize that less than 30% of military children who have been separated from a parent experience behavioral issues (USA Today poll, 2008)? The percentage of non-military children who experience behavioral issues as a result of a parent’s incarceration, or divorce, or even domestic abuse is almost twice as high.

Sir, I will be the first to admit that military service members are not perfect. But we are human beings, who are susceptible to the same things that civilians are. We are an easy target, because so many of us are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with severe problems, after having served in a war that has lost most of it’s public support (and rightly so).

What I have a hard time understanding is why people such as you exercise your freedoms of speech, protest, religion, etc, and then malign the very people who provide, protect and preserve those liberties? I am as anti-Bush as the average American left-wing protestor, but to blame service members for the actions of their elected leadership is immoral. You are essentially grouping us with Nazi’s, which is absolutely ridiculous. The Nazis’ goal was global domination, and they had no clearly defined rule of engagement. They knew that what they were doing was wrong, and did it anyway.

Does the US Military have people who behave in this manner? Absolutely, and they are dealt with within the justice system for their actions. We are in fact “just following orders” with our presence in the Middle-East. As I realize that this was also the defense of Nazi war criminals at Nurnberg, allow me to elaborate. The US military has clearly defined Rules of Engagement, and our greater mission is to stabilize an unstable region, not global control as conspiracy theorists would have everyone believe. Unless you have a solid understanding of counter-terror and counterinsurgency doctrine, you are in no position to presume anything about the US Military in the Middle-East (unless YOU have been there) other than the fact that we invaded Iraq under false pretenses. I’ll give you that one, and take it for myself as well.

Sir, have you ever held a young Iraqi child in your arms, returning him to his parents as they kiss you and your Soldiers’ cheeks, after he had been treated at a US facility because terrorists sodomized him and cut out his tongue? Have you ever looked straight into the eyes of a terrorist, who swore allegiance to Zarqawi and proclaimed himself a “holy warrior”, and seen pure evil? And while your medical personnel treated him for burns (which were sustained when he poured kerosene on a child and his father and attempted to set them on fire publicly, only succeeding to set himself on fire) he spoke perfect English and vowed to remember your name and kill your family? I presume you would view this as our fault, correct?

But here’s the difference between the American Soldier and everyone else: when it is our fault, we acknowledge it, and DO something about it. We help people, good and bad, bottom line. Do bad things happen? Of course. Are all Soldiers and Marines upright citizens? Of course not.. That’s why one Marine out of 30,000 threw a puppy off of a cliff, and four Soldiers out of 121,000 raped a 14-year old girl and killed her family. These actions were inexcusable and tragic, and the individuals in question were/are being dealt with. To generalize every American service member based on these isolated incidents vividly shows your lack of any rational thought.

So in closing, allow me to say that whether you care to acknowledge it or not, it is the MILITARY who grant and preserve liberties and who TRULY make a difference, not politicians, protestors, or half-minded anti-war bloggers. And understand (or don’t) why we are involved in the Global War on Terror, it is because it doesn’t matter whether or not you are white, black, Canadian, American, gay, straight, blind, deaf, or how many anti-Bush websites you manage or protests you attend, there are fundamentalist extremists who want to murder you and your family because you represent western culture.

I want this war to be over so badly that it consumes me at times. I do not want my son to have to see what I have seen as a result of a failed administration. Sir, we are human beings also, and I gladly serve to protect the liberty and freedom of individuals like you who don’t support me at all. So at your next rally, or the next article you write which slanders US service members, take a moment to reflect on your freedoms, and understand who it is that truly grants them. I wish you all continued health and happiness.

Sincerely,

[D.]