William Hamilton: Christmas/Hanukkah Mail for Heroes: Act now
December 7, 2011
Nebraska Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry passes along a great way to send Christmas or Hanukkah greetings to our men and women in uniform. It is a free service provided by the American Red Cross and the Pitney Bowes Corporation. They will bundle up your card or cards (include as many cards as you can) and they will distribute them to our service members scattered across seven continents. You only pay the postage to mail your card or cards to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456.
Just pick out one of your cards, give it a generic salutation such as: “Dear Service Member,” write something appropriate, and sign it. But do not provide your return address or include photos or inserts of any kind. Finally, mail your card or as many cards as you wish to the above address. You can do the same thing faster at: http://www.redcross.org/holidaymail.
If you have ever been away from loved ones at Christmas in some cold, dark, smelly, dangerous place, you know just how much any expression of love and support can mean. While America retreats from the Middle East and from South Asia, such messages mean more than ever. Of all military operations, the Retrograde Operation is the most dangerous of all. As our forces leave a theater of operations, their strength grows weaker, while the comparative strength of their opponents grows stronger.
Not long from now, almost 50,000 young men and women will be back inside the “Land of Flush Toilets” as we paratroopers used to call our homeland. We, who have been here safe and secure all these years, must be aware that for some of our returning troops the “culture shock” of reentering even an economically-depressed America is going to cause some trauma. When your only light (when permitted) has been a candle or gas-fired lantern, the bright lights of America seem dazzling. Seeing well-dressed, well-fed people driving their cars anywhere they please when they please and seemingly unmindful about the turmoil, pain, and suffering that is so endemic in the world they have just eye-witnessed can be, well, “perplexing” to those who have just come from some of the world’s most-dangerous arm-pit areas.
When your entire military is comprised of less than 1 percent of your entire national population, the over 99-percent who have never experienced what these young men and women have experienced have little basis for understanding what these young men and women have experienced or have little basis for understanding how their lives and those of their loved ones have been disrupted.
While some might wonder what combat has done to their psyches, these fit young men and women might well look askance at us. If you set aside the Americans who are too fat, too unfit, too old, or have criminal records, or are in college, only 15 percent of today’s Americans in the age cohort 17-24 are qualified to serve in our all-volunteer armed forces.
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The development of what has become an elite, warrior caste is the result of President Nixon’s decision to convert from a largely draftee force to an all-volunteer force of professionals. The good news: This much smaller professional force is highly effective. The bad news: We have opened a huge gap between those who sacrifice and those who are the beneficiaries of the sacrifices. For example, only 22 percent of the members of Congress have had any military service.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is busily cutting military funding in half and reneging on the promises made long ago to those who survive the 20 years needed to retire. Go figure.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.