A Medal of Honor Recipient Says Everyone Should Serve Their Country (except Dick)

Tonight I went to a talk at Baruch College School of Public Affairs titled Service and Citizenship which featured retired Colonel Jack Jacobs who fought in Vietname and is a Medal of Honor recipient and the other Bill Roedy, a West Point graduate and now Chairman and CEO of MTV International Networks.

I highlighted the most important points brought up during this hour long moderated discussion.

1. Public service should be mandatory (even if it is not the military). They may not agree with the policies of our country, but we should be grateful to have been born in a free country and give something back.

2. There should be a mandatory draft. The problem with the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars are they dragged on for so long and forced the military to overuse their already stretched thin. Having a mandatory draft would allow people to rotate and lessen the stress.The moderator brought up the story of an Army Ranger who recently was killed on his 14th deployment and spent more than 48 months in his last ten years deployed.

3. The disconnect in America  is between those who are serving (the soldiers and their families who account for less than 0.5% of the population) and those who being served (the rest of the civilian population). Since the military is all voluntary most people don’t know anyone who is in the military and then they don’t care. They would rather go on with their own lives and be unaffected by what is going on overseas. In addition the political leaders such as Congress are making policy with little experience (because they have never served) and surround themselves by people who don’t have a clue either.

4. Being in the military taught him to be a better leader,

5. Don’t go to the military because you are broke and need a job. Go because you want to.

6. It is ridiculous that a legal alien has to jump through hoopla after serving our country in uniform to gain American citizenship. American citizenship should be a right.

At the end of the moderated panel, a student and Marine Corps veteran at my table stood up and asked for advice about finding a job in this market.( he received a standing ovation) However I thought Jack Jacobs’ answer was mostly political about not losing hope and going to veteran support groups. So after the talk ended I spoke briefly to the guy and said that although I didn’t know of any job leads. But the federal government is always hiring and I applied to hundreds of jobs where at least 30% of them I am considered highly qualified but am always beat out by a veteran. It may not be what he is lo0king for but worth a shot. As I was speaking to him an investment banker walked over and handed the student/veteran a business card and asked this vet to call him Monday. I found out later this student is also a ten point veteran (he has a service connected disability of 90%) This guy probably won’t be calling Dick for help.

However I got a brief chance to talk to Jack Jacobs to ask him if the Defense Department is cutting back at all time levels. How are people who want to serve their country and not able to get in and what are they supposed to do. He spoke about the cutbacks but didn’t give me any definitive answer about what I could do.

I bring in my favorite saying from my former Gulf War veteran who said: “I like how everyone is trying to get the heck out of the military and yet you are trying to get in.”

 

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One response to “A Medal of Honor Recipient Says Everyone Should Serve Their Country (except Dick)

  1. Grover Mannings

    Listening to members of our military who have received commendations is always inspiring and makes one think twice about the cost of freedom in our country. I salute these individuals for their service, however I both agree and disagree on some of the fundamental points of their discussion.

    1.” Public service should be mandatory (even if it is not the military).”

    Agreed. After college or high school (based on one’s decision to seek higher education) the government should mandate a two year service period. Participants can volunteer to join the military, work for Teach for America, join the Peace Corps, or help run homeless shelters in poverty stricken areas. Students pursuing terminal degrees, ie. Ph.D. students or Medical doctors should be exempt from the public service requirement because of their demanding educational and residency regimens. A country with good doctors is a healthy country.

    JFK famously said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

    This quote is even more poignant in today’s “age of greed”.

    2. “There should be a mandatory draft. The problem with the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars are they dragged on for so long and forced the military to overuse their already stretched thin.”

    Strongly Disagree. No one should be forced to join the military. Further, using the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as examples for a model draft program is borderline ridiculous. We should not have been fighting these two wars to begin with; therefore, forcing unwilling people into combat situations would prove unproductive and catastrophic. Yes, service members were stretched thin, but this wasn’t due to lack of soldiers, it was due to failed leadership.

    The expression “Too many chiefs, not enough indians” applies in this situation.

    3. “The disconnect in America is between those who are serving (the soldiers and their families who account for less than 0.5% of the population) and those who being served (the rest of the civilian population).”

    Moderately Disagree. This is hyperbole on the part of the speaker, who is obvious biased towards the military culture in America. Based on the theory of “Six degrees of separation”, I would argue almost everyone knows someone who is serving in the military. Speaking for myself, I have one blood relative in the Navy and one high school classmate in the Army. This doesn’t include other high school under/over classmates.

    4. “Being in the military taught him to be a better leader.”

    Agreed, although we’re taking him at his word and not based on evaluations from the higher-ups.

    5. “Don’t go to the military because you are broke and need a job. Go because you want to.”

    Agreed, although if it’s the only job available, people are going to signup anyway. While the pay is modest, the health insurance benefits and veteran preference-in-hiring programs payoff in the long run.

    6. “It is ridiculous that a legal alien has to jump through hoopla after serving our country in uniform to gain American citizenship. American citizenship should be a right.”

    Agreed. If you’re willing to die for your country, that should mean something more than just a pat on the back for service. Tangible rewards like automatic citizenship are a good place to start.

    Epilogue: I currently am living in a country where there is NO military. It was disbanded on December 1, 1948. The result: more money for public health benefits, economic development, and LESS taxes. Costa Rica and the USA are about equal when considering equal opportunity access to health care services. Not bad considering most people think of Costa Rica as a developing third-world nation.

    Furthermore, Costa Rica’s tax rates are substantially lower than the USA. I’ve paid taxes in Costa Rica since 2005. The tax form is one 11″x17″ piece of paper. You enter what you earned less what you spent on goods and services. Multiply times X and you’re done. It should be like this in the USA.

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