The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
I write this piece in response to an email I received inviting me to a POW/MIA Recognition Day. For me, this innocuous act was a last straw in controlling how I felt.
Background information is that I am a Vietnam era vet and past president of the Vietnam Veterans of America in Tucson. I became a member in 1986 at which time I was made aware of Sen. John McCain, notable and honorable POW.
What I learned was that as a veteran’s organization we were to stand up for veterans issues and concerns. Political party and affiliation is not a consideration. I now am of the belief that not only did the Vietnam Veterans of America not live up to this promise, but the IAVA, VFW, DAV, and others did not reflect commitment to this principle as we all should have.
For the last three years our commander in chief has not shown appropriate respect for our service members or their families. The latest insult is to have siphoned off military funding that would have benefited service families and children and funds to help fortify military bases around the world including $30 million dollars for Arizona’s Fort Huachuca. This, for me, proved to be a bridge too far and I only hear crickets from all the organizations that should be speaking against this travesty.
To be sure, this is just the latest example of disrespect shown to our military organizations and those who serve. To recount different examples of this disrespect we all should find abhorrent would include:
• Reports that children of service members can be considered immigrants and subject to deportation? Really?
• Publicly announcing withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan without the courtesy of discussing these decisions with the Joint Chiefs or officers of the Pentagon.
• Publicly announcing separation of LGBTQ service personnel without consult of members of the Pentagon for input.
• Lack of acknowledgment of an attack on military forces in Syria by Russian-backed mercenaries. Although they were easily defeated by a superior American force, the fact that the U.S. commander in chief did not acknowledge the incident or challenge Russia for this type of attack on American forces.
But the biggest reaction is related to what should be an American respect for POW/MIAs. On the black flag of POW/MIAs you will note the statement, “You Are Not Forgotten.” How do we relate that to the statement of the U.S. commander in chief’s statement that, “I do not like those who were captured”?
And his animosity was particularly virulent toward a man I think most Americans would define as hero, Sen. John McCain. Politics should never be used as a weapon against those who served with such distinction and honor.
I still await VVA, VFW, IAVA, and other military/veterans organizations to speak out. Supporting someone gives us a greater responsibility that the person is given the correct advise and guided into the most appropriate behavior.