Photo by James N. Mattis, via Flickr

February 6, 2018 Logan Kolas 0Comment

Our troops deserve our support.

As millions of Americans across the globe go about their daily routines, others will not be afforded the same opportunity. Their day has no constant, their lives no guarantee, and their sacrifices are unyielding and all too often unquestioned. Our men and women in the armed forces deserve better than to be reduced to a political pawn.

In midst of the latest episode of partisan politics, Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Department of Defense released the following notice:

Amid the shutdown many well-intentioned, but misguided Libertarians cheered the government’s vacancy as a step toward limited government – so limited that it reeked of wishful anarchy. America – and the bastion of liberty that it has always sought to be – must fight to limit government, not abolish it. After all, how great is freedom without basic protections to ensure its blessings?

Americans got a short glimpse that life still functions without the forceful hand of governance, except only targeted areas of the federal government were closed. Law enforcement and the United States Postal Service (USPS) remained open while the elderly saw no change in their Medicare checks, and the less financially stable never had to worry about the loss of their Medicaid or food stamp coverage.

“The American military is steady, accountable, and will continue to hold the line from the beaches of Normandy and from sea to shining sea.”

On the other hand, our military men and women did have to endure temporary financial hardships. If citizens can still get timely mail from USPS, the American government’s payment to military personnel should never have been in question. The troops deserve better than to be the sacrificial lamb of a lukewarm government shutdown.

Republicans claimed that Democrats were holding legal Americans hostage for illegal immigrants by filibustering a bill to fund the government. Hence, #SchumerShutdown began trending on Twitter. Not to be outdone, Democrats fired back that Republicans were responsible as they hold both chambers of the legislature, the White House, and have rejected their bipartisan efforts. With it came the #TrumpShutdown trend.

Neither party ought to lose sleep as there is more than enough blame to go around – even after the partisan spin cycle. Regardless, one unnerving fact remains. While both parties had enough attention to use and more than enough fingers to point, their political capital was spent toward just that – politics. No #MattisMemorandum or #SupportTheTroops or #HoldTheLine ever became popular enough to trend on Twitter. Again, our troops deserve better.

As Americans, it is necessary that we recognize this problem is not a new one. Our active duty military is underpaid and when they return they are saddled with the scandal-plagued, underfunded, and poorly government-run Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospitals, even though their injuries are often a result of government action (right or wrong) to begin with.

The trend seems clearly problematic. Outside of national holidays like Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and even the 4th of July, the military is often an afterthought. Even then, Americans often get so entrenched in being off school, enjoying the food, or watching the fireworks they forget why the holiday is in place.

In light of the recent – but not infrequent – political turmoil, America must continue to be grateful that our military is willing to hold the line. Even when holding the line does not pay well or, as was the case with the shutdown, refuses to pay at all.

Luckily for all Americans, the government passed a resolution to fund and re-open the government on Monday. While the conditions for our men and women in uniform remain ever changing, the confidence all Americans have in them stays unwavering. The American military is steady, accountable, and will continue to hold the line from the beaches of Normandy and from sea to shining sea. But please, always pay the troops. They have earned it.

Follow this author on twitter: @Logan_Kolas

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