I remember back in January 2007 when I met a woman named Donna Brosemer in Delray Beach, Florida during a break from my service in Afghanistan training the Afghan Army. She presented to me her assessment that upon my return at the end of the year, I should throw my hat in to run for the U.S. Congress. Her words cut to my heart when she said that just because I was no longer serving on active duty in uniform, my oath of service to the Republic was not over. Donna’s son served in the Army as well, so she didn’t just talk the talk, she was a true Woman of Sparta who walked that walk. And so it has been in the history of our beloved Republic that men and women who’ve worn the uniform of this great land, continue to serve on the other battlefield — the one of politics.
And one would believe, who better to serve as elected officials than those who took the oath to our Constitution and were willing to make the last full measure of devotion to honor that oath?
Sure, while we’re in uniform we serve at the behest of the commander in chief, regardless of what political faction occupies the White House. I myself served under Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Never did I speak out against the civilian leadership, albeit the Clinton administration “Consideration of Others” training and other policies caused much consternation. However, upon becoming Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), I was free to speak my mind and no longer under the very constraining Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). It was like I all of a sudden got Constitutional rights!
Once upon a time in America, it was deemed an incredible asset to have served the nation in uniform as you ran for political office, and yes, the presidency. Therefore, I find the opinion piece written by the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey rather perplexing and odd.
General Dempsey writes in the Washington Post in his piece titled, “Military leaders do not belong at political conventions,” “The military is not a political prize. Politicians should take the advice of senior military leaders but keep them off the stage. The American people should not wonder where their military leaders draw the line between military advice and political preference. And our nation’s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines should not wonder about the political leanings and motivations of their leaders.
Retired Marine Gen. John Allen and retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn weren’t introduced at the Democratic and Republican conventions, respectively, as “John” and “Mike.” They were introduced as generals. As generals, they have an obligation to uphold our apolitical traditions. They have just made the task of their successors — who continue to serve in uniform and are accountable for our security — more complicated. It was a mistake for them to participate as they did. It was a mistake for our presidential candidates to ask them to do so.”
So, General Dempsey, or do I say Martin — which I would never do — where do “military leaders belong?” Let’s refine the question sir, to the appropriate one, “where do RETIRED military leaders belong?” And are we talking about retired military leaders or just retired generals? Sir, are you telling us that once done with uniformed service, the only place for senior retired military leaders is to accept the six-figure board positions and disavow the oath they took?
Are you insinuating that, unlike what Donna Brosemer said to me, the service oath for generals ends once they begin to get the big bucks retirement check? How about a retired first sergeant, do they not belong at a political convention — or do you not consider them as a “military leader?”
Just so you know sir, I found it patently disrespectful when President Obama would refer to you as Marty or Martin. You earned that rank and title, and so did Generals Allen and Flynn — of course I found it rather interesting that General Allen would be on the stage where a Medal of Honor recipient was heckled, as was he during his speech.
No sir, I think it’s very important that our retired military leaders get engaged and involved in the American political process — after all, they are leaders. And at this time in the life cycle of our Constitutional Republic, we need leadership.
I truly believe if we had more retired military leaders in positions of political office in America, we would have a different country. You see General Dempsey, that’s why during my time as a Congressman, I started a political action committee (PAC) called the Guardian Fund in order to support more military conservatives in their quest for political office. I believe there needs to be a resurrection of honor, integrity, and character in the halls of political officialdom. I wish there were more retired military leaders speaking at the RNC convention as the embodiment and testimony of professionalism and commitment to this nation.
I watched retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Darryl Glenn take the RNC convention stage — are you meaning to tell me this military leader doesn’t belong there?
Sir, if we had more retired and former military leaders on the political stage, maybe we wouldn’t have the deplorable situation our veteran brothers and sisters face. Perhaps we wouldn’t have the insidious rules of engagement that plague our deployed forces. Maybe we wouldn’t have the decimation of our military capability and capacity while the focus is on social engineering — much of which happened on your watch as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
I think if we have retired military leaders on the political stage, our aviation maintenance crews wouldn’t be scouring “bone yards” and museums looking for spare parts.
If we had more retired military leaders on the political stage, I bet we wouldn’t have on average 22 veterans committing suicide every day, families struggling and living on food stamps, and children missing their moms and dads because of endless multiple deployments.
No sir, retired military leaders have held positions of prominence and political office since our first president. We belong everywhere in America, not just relegated to hanging out in the VFW and American Legion Posts telling stories of the past. We belong at the forefront in the restoration of this Republic sir…because we are, and forever shall be “guardians of the Republic.”
Army Strong, sir!