Letter to Editor about MOAA‘s Military Officer Magazine article, Today’s Army
From LCol Harold Riley, USA (Ret) 5-4-05. Forwarded by Floyd Spears


Tom Philpott's piece titled, Today's Army, in the May issue of Military Officer discussing military recruiting was a disappointment. Either Mr. Philpot has slanted the article or MGen Rochelle, in his interview, missed an important ingredient in describing recruiting shortfalls.

MGen Rochelle points out the economy and the war as the chief threats to enlistments. His arguments are less than convincing.

Neither MGen Rochelle nor Mr. Phillpott approach an important point that variable “influencers” are likely considering in dissuading children and grandchildren from the military. Certainly both men clearly understand the variable I refer.

Why would the patriotic “influencers” be less than supportive of military service? What is the variable that may be impacting recruiting that MGen Rochelle and Mr. Philpott ignore?

The answer likely lies in the way WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and other veterans/retirees have been treated by the U.S. government. It is understandable why MGen Rochelle and Mr. Philpott would not touch the issue of military retiree/veteran care… the General would retire and Mr. Philpott would lose the access key to his profession.

When our government makes commitments, sends us off to war, and then fails to honor obligations such as health care, is less than truthful about the Survivor Benefit Plan, fights veteran disability compensation tooth and nail, implies spouses and widows are baggage, and identifies military benefit funding as “harmful to our nation,” it doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduce that “influencers” are less than supportive regarding military service, certainly long-term.

Our government seems to view the blood and body parts left on the battlefield by warriors as little more than political opportunity… fails to understand family sacrifice… and treats all as “used brown bags” only to be discarded. “Pork” reigns. Thus, potential enlistees witness the manner past warriors are treated… and leaders wonder at recruiting shortfalls?

When the U.S. government understands that “the bedrock of our very freedom and liberty rests on the sacrifice of our warriors and spouses,” and acts accordingly, those following will reflect an improved spirit of service.

Harry G. Riley, Col., USA, (Ret)
111 Overview Drive
Crestview, FL 32539-8596
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