Official disclaimer: nothing in this post reflects the views of the Department of Defense, the Army, the Marines, etc. This is only the unofficially terrible, wrong and poorly written opinion of one person who happened to have served at some point since 9/11. You have been warned.
Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to say that this is sort of a pet project of mine, pointing out hypocrisy in the military. Ask my friends and family, I do it all the time and they’re worse off for it. First of all, it’s really easy to do. The military is fond of espousing lofty ideals and empty platitudes that it clams to adhere to, but regularly and hilariously/depressingly fails to do so. It’s a cash cow for an amateur/bad writer. So don’t be surprised when you see this topic show up again with different examples, pending me not getting fired from unpaid writing for a fucking WordPress blog no one is going to read anyways.
Over the course of most of the last decade spent in military service, I have made the observation that the political rhetoric of many individuals in the military are often at odds with their reality. You could even say that many servicemen are hypocrites, if you were trying to get a rise out of people. Which I am!
It is probably no surprise to anyone that the most vocally political of our servicemen are “conservative.” I put conservative in scare quotes because it is my experience that many servicemen (and the general public) cannot define basic political terms like liberal, conservative, socialism, communism, etc. This service by conservatives makes sense, if you think about it: self-defined conservatives are very nationalistic and feel that military service is part of patriotism, if not the definition, whereas a liberal may be more inclined to join another organization, like the Peace Corps. Now, I have served with many liberal/progressive servicemen as well, but in my experience the trend tends toward conservative.
It is an almost daily occurrence where I hear senior military personnel make stereotypically conservative comments like “the government can do nothing right,” or “fucking Obamacare,” or “fucking welfare.” You get the idea.
Some recent examples include:
– The retired Navy person, well into Social Security/Medicare age, who works at the desk of the military gym I frequent, stating, “What the fuck is Obama doing with this healthcare thing? It’s socialism if I’ve ever seen it.”
– The senior Non-Commissioned Officer who regularly states that “the government can’t do anything right” who is a giant Fox News fan and regularly spouts crazy shit he hears from Rush Limbaugh.
I will refer back to these examples as I make my case.
The first point I want to make is that in my opinion it is hypocritical of a serviceman to want to deny another American the same benefits they receive with no discussion. I have sacrificed much for my country and know those who have sacrificed everything. I am prepared to sacrifice my life if need be for the defense of this country, or for whatever mission my chain of command (military and civilian) deems necessary, regardless of my personal opinion of that mission or policy.
The country, through Congress, has decided that there is a certain benefits package that I am entitled to because of this willingness to risk my life for its well-being. I accept that. It would be dishonest to say that I am not extremely pleased with the benefits and compensation that the military provides me for my service. But how is the sacrifice I am willing to make different from that of a fireman or policeman, as an example?
They risk their lives daily and are paid a fraction of what a serviceman gets in total compensation (base pay, housing allowance, free health insurance, etc). For instance, they do not get healthcare free of charge like I do. I am willing to take it even further – why do I get free (to me) healthcare and nurses and doctors do not? Are doctors, nurses, firemen and police not as essential to our society as the military? Do they not make significant sacrifices for the greater good? What about the guys who plow snow? If they weren’t around our cities would be paralyzed every winter, and those mentioned above would not even be able to get to work.
Many servicemen would argue that this generous benefit package exists because the military may be called upon to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty. Sounds a little bit like a cop, right? Well, what about FBI or CIA agents? They routinely send their personnel into combat zones with the military and do not receive housing allowance or free healthcare. I don’t see a good reason why they shouldn’t, given that their sacrifices are at least equal to that of the military.
This brings me to the example of the retired Navy guy above. He is entitled to his military pension and government healthcare (socialism!) for life, which he should absolutely get for his service. This gentleman also qualifies for Social Security and Medicare, programs which I fully support; in fact, I think they need to be expanded. Needless to say, he is well taken care of by his government. How can he say, with a straight face, that Obamacare is a bad thing while he collects all of these government benefits? We won’t get into the fact that Obamacare perpetuates an abysmal private healthcare system and does nothing to provide Tricare-level (the military’s health insurance system) care and cost for normal Americans, that it is extremely inefficient and costly compared to the nationalized healthcare systems of every other first world nation, but I digress. So government “handouts” are ok for you, the veteran, but not for a civilian? In his opinion he is better than a civilian because of his service, and maybe he is, but if you look down upon civilians, who are you serving? It strikes me as massively hypocritical to disparage “handouts” and “Obamacare” while collecting a government pension and healthcare for life.
This attitude also goes against the whole concept of “service,” and what makes it honorable. Service is honorable because of the sacrifice an individual makes for the greater good, so how is carping about benefits and what disability level you received honorable? Service itself should be its own reward, right? When you have served 20-plus years in the military and turn into a bitter old man concerned only about your retirement package and Tricare benefits, you become no better than a member of any other interest group squabbling over the scraps the government doles out; interest groups that conservative servicemen routinely disparage.
What about our “the government can’t do anything right” friend above? Some background on this person, keeping it as generic as possible: he is a 20-plus year reservist who is mobilized state-side to train deploying soldiers. His civilian employer also keeps paying him while he is serving, so he draws two full paychecks. This gentleman has never deployed to a combat zone to defend his country where it matters, he has a permanent profile (military term meaning he has a condition or injury which limits his physical activity, forever) and therefore cannot complete a Physical Fitness Test like everyone else. To me it is criminal that you have senior soldiers who have been in the service the last 10 years and never fought overseas. It takes no small amount of effort to continually move units so you can duck deployments; it is not a mistake this guy has never deployed. He has worked hard for this. If the government cannot do anything right and you support the Bush-era wars so much, why did you remain a government employee and have never fought in them? Why do you continually volunteer for active assignments that guarantee you won’t deploy, but make you a government employee? It is massively hypocritical to belittle the effectiveness of the government while you suckle at its teat. This begs the question that if generous military compensation and benefits are for the possibility of death or injury, why does a trooper mobilized for permanent stateside duty get them?
I also hear a lot of talk about entitlements in general, and how Americans want something for nothing and how that is our problem as a country. Hate to tell my conservative brothers-in-arms this, but free health care, separation allowance, basic housing allowance, and subsistence allowance are all entitlements…
My opinion of why this cognitive dissonance exists is that Americans are stupid. I almost wrote uneducated, but I know plenty of well-educated dumbasses, two of which I described above. We have spent well over a generation, at least since Nixon, embracing anti-intellectualism in this country. If you got good grades at my middle school, you were a nerd. Regardless of how well you did at sports, or fighting, or with the opposite gender, or whatever – getting good grades and being in advanced classes made you a target. Guess what – those same kids who hated smart people, they fucking vote and join the Army in this country. And they become senior NCOs and officers and they retire to live off the government’s dole as “veterans,” and they have the balls to actually complain about poor people getting something for nothing from the taxpayer while they do the exact same thing, because they are stupid.
Because they were raised in an America that said it was ok to be a hypocrite, an America that said it was good to be stupid. Dumb people are just regular Joes! George W. Bush is just like me – he can’t talk none too good, he looks like an asshole inbred hillbilly, he’s a bum ex-drunk who needs fundamental Christianity to keep his shit together – that’s why I voted for him! GW Bush was the pinnacle of American asshole-dom and stupidity. I still cannot believe that motherfucker was our FUCKING PRESIDENT for eight years. I am embarrassed for the entire democratic experiment that is America. Jesus.
Oh – sorry. Where was I? Yes, most servicemen are stupid hypocrites because they are American, and most Americans are stupid hypocrites.
(Politics and the Military)