If there is no pay for troops at war, then there should be no pay for anyone in government and anyone with anything to do with withholding that pay should resign in disgrace…

July 31, 2011

While I find the mantra of “support the troops” tiresome in that it is a device used to blackmail people into supporting a particular policy, I find the idea of not paying them, especially ones in the field, to be unconscionable.

Yet once again we hear that threat, this time indirectly from the outgoing chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. I don’t mean it is his fault, but he says he does not know for sure whether troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere would be paid (immediately, most likely later, though) if the government defaults on its debts by congress and  the president not okaying a raise in the debt ceiling.

Seems to me that while the ultra-conservative and or/ neocon war mongers are the ones who usually use that mantra of “support the troops” as blackmail, this might be a form of blackmail from the other side, even though I doubt the admiral is part and party to it, other than the fact he has gotten no assurances from the administration that the troops would be paid.

Personally I think troops, especially those in combat areas, have to be paid if anyone can be paid.

I could not support any politician, whether he be the president, or he or she a  member of congress — Senate and House — and no matter what political party he or she is a member of who had anything to do withholding pay to the troops or did nothing to make sure they were paid.

As a matter of fact, I would expect anyone who had any part in withholding pay from the troops to resign and/or be subject to impeachment (although, technically that may not be an impeachable offense).

How could you pay anyone in good conscience without paying those who put their life on the line in your name (regardless of the merits of the policies that sent them there)?

The story that inspired this blog post is:


Troops in the field said to be short sheeted, so to speak…

September 19, 2009

I think I recall reading that during the Civil War women ripped up their petticoats and sent them to the war front to be used for bandages. That’s a generous and caring and patriotic thing to do.

Now I see on the Dr. Phil Show that a woman whose son, a Marine, was killed in Iraq, is running a program called Operation Bedding in which citizens are urged to send sheets and bedding materials to troops, along with other personal items, snacks and so on.

When I was in the Army, a practical joke was to make someone’s bunk, but fold the sheets back under the covers – short sheeting (yes, kind of silly). But apparently some of our troops are really short of sheets.

While I see nothing wrong with sending bedding, goodies or anything needed to the troops, I found it strange and sad that our troops are in short supply of bedding. I mean lord knows we spend billions in tax money to pay private contractors but we don’t have enough left over for a basic necessity of our troops (who are paid way less than contractors, even those contractors doing the same job as them).

I recall that during the Vietnam War parents were sending their sons cans of oil to clean their rifles. And I guess that a shortage of supply and supply foul-ups are fact of any war, but I also at the same time feel outraged that so many people make so much money out of war and yet our troops who lay their lives on the line often go without basic necessities (at least that is the indication).

Maybe I am not understanding the present situation and these are just some nice extras being solicited for the troops. And I certainly would not discourage the sending of anything good for our men and women in the field.

But the best support of all would be for the public to pay some attention to what is actually going on and letting our elected leaders know whether we should continue our present course in the wars. Also, if we are to continue, the public has a duty to support the effort and not make our troops suffer and depend upon volunteer contributions for their basic necessities.

Maybe I am isolated from the mainstream of society – sometimes I think so. I hardly ever hear anyone discuss our ongoing war effort, except the simplistic call to “support the troops” or “better to fight them over there than here” (or, more accurately, let our troops fight them over there). Of course most any patriotic citizen (regardless of whether they tend to have pro-war or anti-war tendencies) would (nominally) support troops who are doing the job we have sent them to do – the question is, is the mission correct? not much public discussion on that.

Maybe the answer is that we are at war and it has been decided. Well then, all effort must be put forward to win and sacrifice on the home front should be called for. Living life as usual while troops risk their lives out in the field and depend upon care packages from home seems kind of shameful to me.

Nonetheless, contributions to Operation Bedding cannot hurt, I would think. You can get the details by calling up: http://www.adamconboymemorialfund.org


Maybe the perceived lack of concern for the troops is from the fact that these days we do not have young men (or women) yanked out of civilian life via the military draft. It is an all-volunteer professional force. We have turned our defense (and offense) over to a mercenary force, albeit one who still considers itself to be fighting for America, not just for a job. No sacrifice is called for from the citizenry.

Memorial Day…

May 25, 2008
(copyright ) 
By Tony Walther
It’s confusing because there is more than one day that celebrates the contributions of veterans, but this is Memorial Day, which specifically honors those who have sacrificed their lives in all of our wars.
Fortunately for my family, each of the three sons has served in the military, but each of us is alive. Dad missed World War I because he was too young, and World War II because he was too old by that day’s standards. But he was a cadet in high school. You should see the photo of him and his brother in their campaign hats and those ballooned trousers.
My oldest brother put in 20 years in the Navy. I joined the Army, serving something over three years altogether. My other brother was nabbed by Uncle Sam between college and law school and did a tour in Vietnam with the Army.
But this day is to honor those who did not return.
We’re flying a flag we purchased the other day. Put it up right away, and I think we’ll keep it up. Don’t need a holiday as an excuse to fly it.
I always say I don’t follow a standard political ideology, but anyone who knows me realizes that I tend to be progressive (the neocons would call me liberal, liberal, liberal) .
No, usually I’m no flag waver. And isn’t there a saying: “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”?
On the other hand, I have no use for flag burning or desecration of any kind. I see nothing good coming out of that. I would not forsake my country or dishonor it for anything. I may think that others, some politicians for instance, do, but I’m not going to stoop to their level to make a point.
And why do people sacrifice their lives for their country? Sometimes they may be just accidental heroes. I mean no disrespect there. Some just feel that strongly. They have a sense of duty. Some were forced into the situation. Remember, we used to have the draft.
In the end, it makes no difference. Dead is dead. Maybe they took one of our spots, so we could live.
If you’ve read my columns you know that I do not exactly support the war over in the Middle East. I have said, though, that if we must fight it, then we owe it to ourselves and our troops to go full out, win it and get out.
While I wholeheartedly believe in supporting our troops, I find the slogan “support our troops” to be mindless jingoism. It is a rhetorical device to make someone who does not support a war policy to have to commit to supporting it, because if one doesn’t, then one must be not in support of the troops in battle. And that would be shameful.
Well, Mr. and Mrs. Bumper Sticker, I do support our troops and think they need the supplies, the armor, and top medical and education benefits. I also think the policy that sends them where they are is a totally different matter. So if I were to say, for instance, that I am against the war, I could still rightfully proclaim to be in support of the troops. But you wouldn’t buy that. But I can, perhaps, think more complex thoughts than you, Mr. And Mrs. Bumper Sticker.
However, there is no complexity to my unwavering reverence to all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to their country. They were not allowed to decide the whys, they just performed the duty that was thrust upon them. Even those in our current all-volunteer military are doing simply what they are obligated to do. Someone has to fill the ranks. To all I say: Thank You!