Military Families Stand Against McCain
by chrisblask, Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 09:45:06 AM EDT
While John McCain uses his military service as a talking-point to promote his presidential campaign, many of those who serve and their families remain unconvinced.
Blue Star Families For Obama is a nationwide organization of military families who are vocally opposed to the McCain/Palin ticket, and they aren't quiet about it. In an article today, a Navy spouse lays out her reasons.
Barack and Michelle Obama, along with Joe and Jill Biden, have actually listened to both our frustrations and cheers. Michelle Obama has held roundtable discussions with many military families, and she has adopted our cause as a primary focus area in the campaign. In just two short months, BSF4O has generated chapters in 24 states, helped to host a care package service event at the DNC in Denver with Michelle Obama, attended dozens of rallies and roundtable discussions about military family issues, and hosted house parties across the country.
Keep in mind, we admire McCain's service to our country, but we cannot support his vision for our future in large part because of his continued refusal to provide real support to our troops, veterans, and the military community.
The most striking thing about the way McCain leverages his experience in the military for personal gain is how it contrasts with the way every other military person I have met does not. Never has a veteran withing my range of hearing said anything to aggrandize their service, never have they even gone as far as to bring up the topic. This seems the defining characteristic of military heros - they don't see themselves as heroic.
In Orlando a few years ago for a conference I crossed paths with a vet (fellow smoker and early riser, we ended up being cigarette-buddies talking for an hour each morning before the rest of the world got moving). It was on the third day that I discovered - through my questions, not his statements - that he had been one of the soldiers on the ground during the "Blackhawk Down" incident in Mogadishu. This man had been pinned down for days while hundreds of opposing forces unloaded crates of ammunition at him and his handful of friends in one of the most infamous battles in American history, but he did not do a single thing - not a word, not a gesture - to in any way make it seem that he had done anything unusual at all. In fact, he went out of his way to downplay the whole thing and instead talked about the political and practical situation that led to the conflict, the plight of the Somalis that led them to kill his comrades.
Senator McCain's insistence on reminding us of his service is itself a disservice to the rest of our men and women who never do.
By repeating his status as a Vietnam veteran and former POW, John McCain indirectly uses all of our military members and veterans as job references to bolster his candidacy. It's a smart move because a recent Gallup poll shows that 71% of Americans have confidence in our military. Conversely, only 12% of Americans have confidence in Congress. McCain is part of both the military and Congress, and one of his more effective campaign strategies has been to distance himself from the Republican party and his status as 26-year veteran of the Senate - a much longer tenure as a Senator than he was as a military officer.
It may be a smart political move, but it is made at the expense of every other soldier, sailor and marine who quietly serves and even more quietly carries their stories through civilian life.
Our choice to support Obama is not only based on McCain's lack of real support for our military community, but it is also based on Obama's demonstrated commitment to serve us who so proudly serve the country.
When Obama joined the Senate, he signed up for the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. He co-sponsored the GI Bill for the 21st Century, which includes transferability to a spouse or child. Obama voted for the Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act, extending Tricare benefits and reimbursements, saving them from scheduled cuts that were tied to Medicare decreases. Obama also sponsored the Veterans Suicide Study Act, and he will work to improve mental health care at every stage of military service. He is also a sponsor of the Veterans Homelessness Prevention Act, which would authorize a pilot program within the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development to prevent at-risk veterans and veteran families from falling into homelessness. These and many other actions demonstrate his real support in addition to his comprehensive plan for our troops, military families, and veterans.
Honoring our troops requires more than reminding them that you were one of them, once. It requires honoring their service over your own, in word and in deed.