Next month my nephew will graduate from High School. Off and on, over the last 4 or 5 years, he has said that he wants to join the army. Sometimes he says he’s never wanted to do anything else, other times he says there’s no way he’ll ever join the military. Well, he’s 17 - what does he know?
I understand that years of watching WWII documentaries on the History Channel and playing Call of Duty for literally countless hours may have had some influence on his decision. I also understand that his grandfather is pressuring him to carry on the “family tradition” (even though none of his own sons served) since he, his father and his grandfather were all army men.
I know, too, that my nephew has other reasons for choosing the army life. Really, though, his reasons are irrelevant to me. I just want him to have a life that brings him a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. If that’s the army, I’m all for it, and proud of him for even considering to serve his country.
So, what’s that got to do with politics? Well, everything, obviously. I look at the candidates through many different lenses, all of which are specific to me, though not exclusive to me. I use a variety of criteria to judge elected officials and potential elected officials, as we all do.
Right now, as I have for some time, I’m looking at how well my nephew will be treated as a member of the U.S. Armed Services. Will the next Commander in Chief make certain that he has the supplies and support he and his fellows need to be as safe and effective as possible? If he is injured, will he receive proper medical attention? If he is disabled, will the VA system be able to support him for that sacrifice? If he serves for some time and chooses to leave, will the GI Bill still be there to help him get started on a new life, since he will have passed by the opportunity to go to college straight out of high school in order to serve?
Will he be asked to fight for the American way of life and American interests or will he be asked to protect corporate interests? Will he be asked to provide help to peaceful people around the world or to help intimidate and subjugate them?
How do I know what the next president will do in these areas and all the others that pertain? I don’t. None of us do. All I can do is listen to what they say, look at their records, and look at who supports their candidacy.
I believed that the war in Iraq was a foolish waste of resources, lives, and goodwill from the first mention of the possibility of war. I thought everyone else thought the same way. I was very wrong. So, where did I get this idea when most of the country was, apparently, all gung ho for this fiasco? I was listening to active and recently retired military persons, to UN reps and inspectors, to recently retired State Department employees, to people who had the means to know and the will to speak and nothing to lose by doing so.
When I think back to those times, there are several names that come to mind. Men and women who spoke well and frequently, to any who would listen, about all that was wrong with both the premise and the proposed implementation of a war with Iraq. I thought those people were correct then and I still listen to them, as well as those that have joined them (in retirement, for the most part), because I respect them and, of course, I agree with them.
When I peruse the list of those who are supporting the various candidates, the names of those whose opinions and service records that I respect on issues of defense, foreign policy, and veterans’ affairs, show up on en masse on one candidate’s list of supporters:
For our country, for the world we share, for myself, and for my nephew, I would choose Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States.