Supporting our troops can sometimes mean taking a stand

Supporting our troops can sometimes mean taking a stand

October 18, 2011 ~ Please don’t mistake my disinterest in allowing another child to enter the Corps as a lack of support for our military. Our family will continue to serve and support our military, their families, and our veterans by giving our time and our talents to meet the needs here on the homefront.  We will fight this battle for those who can not stand alone and we will not stop until every veteran is back home and receiving the support and care needed to move forward and live a fulfilling life.

A letter to Sergeant Major Michael A. Logan, Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Dear Sgt Maj Logan,

Today my youngest son, a 17 year old high school senior, received two more pieces of recruiting material in the mail.  You have been sending him mail since he was a sophomore, but I found receiving this mail even more appalling today because I completed the Military Recruitment Opt-Out Parent Form on August 4, 2011.  I will admit that it was a choice that felt strange and almost foreign to me, but there was no hesitation in my decision the day I signed my name on that form.

I feel that military service is one of the most honorable professions one can choose.  I am grateful for those who are willing to serve and sacrifice on my behalf so that I can continue to live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  I know that it is imperative that our nation have a strong military, and with no draft, we need people to step up and serve.

So why, you ask, did I sign the Opt-Out form?  Basically, I want to make a point.  I have already given one child to the Marine Corps.  He served three combat tours for our nation.  He gave his heart and soul to the United States Marine Corps.  He believed that Semper Fidelis meant ALWAYS faithful.  He believed that when the Marines say that they will never leave anyone behind, they keep that promise.

Unfortunately, some who wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps did not follow through and they were not faithful to the end.  These men let my son down.  These men let our family down, and we all know that my son is not the only one of this path of rejection, despair, and deplorable health care.

First he was denied quality care by the Wounded Warrior Battalion, and now he has all but given up on the local VA Medical Center, as the employees are apparently too overburdened to have an ounce of care left in them to take care of our disabled combat veterans.

Until the military, and specifically those who wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps, can take care of their own and live up to their promises, you are not welcome to send your recruiting materials to my home.  If you can’t take care of these men and women when they return home from war, broken and unable to serve, then do NOT come knocking at our doors to take our remaining children away.

Instead of promising teenage boys that they can be among the “greatest heroes this country has ever known, forever belonging to an elite brotherhood of specially trained warriors”, perhaps you should be promising our injured Marines that you will take care of them no matter the outcome.  Forever belonging is a term which is obviously used loosely.  Apparently it is only meant for those who dodge the bullets and the IED’s, and come home without living through anything remotely traumatic.

It is my opinion that you should not bring one more person into military service unless you can guarantee that you will take care of them once they return home from the war zone.  I would imagine that you expect every Marine to do his job to the best of his ability.  You, Sir, are a Marine, and you are not doing your job to the best of your ability if you and other Marine Corps leaders can not take care of each one recruited into the Corps assuring them the best possible care when they return home from combat with injuries.

As a member of the Corps leadership, you spent over a quarter of a million dollars training my son to be a part of Marine Corps Special Operations Command.  I would think you would be more careful with your investment and insist on quality health care and rehabilitation programs that have more to offer than drug cocktails and three month waits between appointments.

I would love for my youngest son to have an opportunity to take his place among the elite few who have come before him.  The first one he would stand beside would be his oldest brother, who served honorably for three combat tours. He would stand next to his brother who was chosen, who trained, and who served honorably in MARSOC.

We all bought the recruiter’s promise back in 2003.  I trusted you, a Corps leader, to take care of my boy.  I signed him over at the age of seventeen to the Delayed Entry Program because you said that the “self-discipline, self-confidence, and the respect my oldest son would receive would be more than worth the sacrifice of training and service.”  We caught a glimpse of that for a few short years until his injuries deemed him unfit for service and apparently, unfit for the Semper Fidelis package promised at Parris Island.

We gave you a child full of promise and potential, but what was returned home to our family was a wounded combat veteran for whom there is no system in place to provide quality care.

Thousands of troops come home physically wounded or suffering with the invisible wounds of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress each year.  This war seems to have no end.  The numbers of injured are increasing and the health care system for our troops and veterans is already overwhelmed.  There are too many who need help and not enough services and providers who can treat them.

When sending out future recruiting materials, for every Marine you show pictured in his Dress Blues, perhaps you should also show a photo of the many homeless Marines living under the bridges across this country.  Give these teenagers an opportunity to look at both sides of the coin before they sign their lives away.

I have already given one son for the cause and I have watched the system, as it currently exists, do nothing but further destroy his life. Our family will Opt-Out of military service until the Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Administration are both willing to uphold their end of the bargain and take care of those who serve.

Please don’t mistake my disinterest in allowing another child to enter the Corps as a lack of support for our military. Our family will continue to serve and support our military, their families, and our veterans by giving our time and our talents to meet the needs here on the homefront.  We will fight this battle for those who can not stand alone and we will not stop until every veteran is back home and receiving the support and care needed to move forward and live a fulfilling life.

Respectfully submitted,

Beth Pennington

cc: Fayette County Public Schools

Originally published by the author at Military Missions Inc.

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