Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl / This Veteran's Opinion

The other day, I was having some minor work done on my truck.  The young mechanic came up to me and said, “I noticed you’re a vet; and I just want to thank you for your service.”  I should explain that in Oregon there are many variations of vehicle plates, one of which reflects that you were a military veteran.  I responded, “Well, thank you, that was many years ago.”  I shook his hand.

Driving home, I started thinking about the young man’s comment.  Perhaps the plates indicated to him and maybe some others that I was searching for, or felt deserving of, a compliment, a thank you, a pat on the back.  That was not my intention.  As I said before, in Oregon, they have many different license plates for which you must pay a little extra.  The little extra is generally dedicated to what might be considered a good cause like veterans’ programs, save the salmon, build more bicycle paths, support a local college (aka football team), etc.  As a veteran, and I am proud of that fact, I felt I was making a small contribution to Oregon veterans; although, I’m not exactly sure how that money is allocated.  Nonetheless, I thought I’d let others worry about the salmon.

I was in the military for four years during the Vietnam era.   I spent two years in Southeast Asia.  I suppose there were some hardships associated with that.  I didn’t see my wife for nearly a year.  I didn’t have an opportunity to see my son until he was six-months-old.  But, I wasn’t any hero – that’s for sure.  And, I don’t pretend to be one.

The military was a job.  I’ve always felt the military did me a favor.  In my estimation, they changed me for the better.  Does that sound strange?  There was, perhaps, a little danger involved, but that only added to the excitement.  All things considered, the military was a good experience.  I was given a lot of responsibility for personnel and equipment – a degree of responsibility that was never matched in my later careers.  Yes, and that included being an Agent in the FBI.

I guess what I’m trying to say is if you want to thank a veteran that’s fine.  But, let’s not forget to thank so many others who may very well be equally deserving:  farmers, nurses, emergency personnel, teachers, mill workers, miners; and even (I might add) the young man who worked on my truck.

There are, of course, true heroes in the military past and present.  Admittedly, their opinion on the following should have more credibility than my own.  However, here is one veteran’s opinion regarding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  I’m glad he’s coming home.

From what I’ve heard, he no doubt would be rightfully considered a ‘deserter.’  In times past, he would have been shot or hanged.  But, times are different now.

For the men who searched for and suffered attempting to recover Bergdahl, one can only say that was their mission, their job.  They did it, and for those that survived, they are better men for it.  Their job was damage control, not ‘rescue’ as has been so often described in the media.  Deserters cannot be rescued.  Deserters are recovered to prevent further damage to the overall mission.  However, I understand that this concept may not make a whole lot of sense to non-military types.

Bergdahl is and was a very troubled individual.  He has suffered for his actions.  He will continue to suffer the remainder of his life.  He should be given a General Discharge (not an Honorable Discharge) and allowed to go home.  One other thing.  He doesn’t deserve, nor would he expect, a parade or a community celebration when he returns to Idaho.  Any community that would organize such a celebration dishonors all veterans; and, as a community, brings shame upon their collective-selves.

True Nelson
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