Checking our 6 | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This article originally appeared in the Beaufort Observer.

    In the military combat flying business there is a term for looking behind you. This is called "Checking your 6" referring to the 6 O'clock position. In Checking our 6 for 2011 what do we see?

    We see the troops coming home from Iraq. 8 years and 4,484 American lives lost. We removed a despotic ruler. Was he really a threat to us? Did we win? If so what did we win? Sectarian violence has escalated since our withdrawal but that has been a way of life in that area for thousands of years. We certainly didn't win. The only thing that has changed is the cast of characters.

    In Afghanistan we have been there for 10 years at the cost of 1863 American lives to date. His highness has said that we will leave there next year. We are supporting another corrupt leader. Did we win? If so what? Media reports that we are trying to make deals with the Taliban, our supposed enemy. But then again they are not our enemy, according to our exalted vice ruler, even if they are shooting at our troops and setting IED's in the hopes of killing or maiming our troops.

    Our VA hospitals are filled with young men and women missing arms, legs, eyes, and worse and what does the Federal Government do for them? To be fair they are making tremendous strides in the design and usefulness of prosthetic devices and physical therapy strategies. Unfortunately we see the Administration through the DOD paring back their budget on the backs of seniors and military retirees health care by attempting to cut Dr's reimbursements by 27%. Efforts are underway in DOD circles to change the military retirement system to one more like a 401 style program that is seen in civilian life. The military also tried to quietly change the law as set forth in the Uniform Code of Military Justice in their efforts to appease the LBGT minorities. I said some time ago that when they officially recognized these minorities it was letting the camels nose under the tent. Now they expect to receive all the same benefits given to legally married men and women. There was an attempt at Walter Reed military hospital to deny our wounded vets and their families the opportunity to use and practice their religious beliefs. A VA cemetery in Texas tried to deny veterans families the right to say a prayer during burial ceremonies. Base Chapels can no long display religious symbols except during actual services. Commanding Officers must insure that their directives no longer invoke any religious content.

    There has been a large increase in the number of Commanding Officers, in all branches of the services, that have been either demoted, forcibly retired, or convicted of unlawful acts ranging from rape to incompetence. I think that this is due to several factors one of which is that there is an attitude in the lower ranks to hold their leaders to a high standard. In years past it was just accepted that some leaders were criminals or incompetent and you just dealt with it and hoped it would go away. Today's service man or women are more educated and willing to use the system that is in place to resolve any grievances they may have. Also there are, I believe, a few cracks in that old rule of closing ranks around fellow officers who have been accused of misconduct. Just like doctors and lawyers. Our leaders both in the military and civilian life should strive to represent their office to the highest standards.

    Our Veterans not only have to be on guard overseas but here at home as well. It has been my experience that bringing these things up to our Congressional representatives will get you nothing but political speak, while never really answering the specific question. What will the next year bring? I can only pray that it will bring a leadership in Washington DC that will put our country and its people first.

    I do want to thank the Beaufort Observer Editorial Team for inviting me to join their group. I also want to thank those who have commented on my submissions. Let's all hope that the coming year will bring more upbeat news for all of us.
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