In the “do you still beat your wife?” mode of journalism, for the second time in several weeks, the New York Times has focused on the rate of desertions from military service, onMarch 23, now behind its subscription wall, and again onApril 9.

Although the rate of desertion was actually higher pre-9/11, it has climbed marginally in the past two years to still less than 1% in the Army. The reporter of both NYT’s articles, Paul von Zielbauer, presents this fact, and that prosecution for desertions has risen due to being viewed more seriously during wartime. However, Zielbauer’s emphasis is that, nonetheless, these desertions and prosecutions indicate desperation within military leadership due to decreased support for the mission among the military, combat stress, and lowered standards in recruitment in order to fill the ranks.

Ziebauer’s articles are comparable to treating the acts of rare murderers as indicating the attitudes held by non-murderers: utter hogwash. Abnormal psychology does not tell us much or misleads about normal psychology. If one wants to know what non-murderers believe, examine and survey them, but don’t speciously infer their attitudes based on aberrants, in the process impugning the decency and integrity of the other 99% and more.

Here’s just two more direct indications of why our servicepeople serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, from non-enthusiastic participants in the war.

From a young Marine:

Many of my family and friends know that one of the things I’m most proud of is my combat action ribbon. For those who don’t know, it is colloquially known as the “been there, done that” ribbon. It is only awarded to those that have been in direct combat.

What nearly everyone fails to understand is that I’m not proud of it because I earned it, nor am I proud because it qualifies me as a man, or for any other personal reason. I’m proud to wear it because it means that (hopefully) my son or daughter will never have to.

From a soldier’s mother:

In the past year and a half, sixty percent of the deserters had less than one year of service. These are not soldiers who had seen multiple deployments being asked to serve beyond their commitment. Eighty percent of the soldiers had less than three years service. Contrary to what many think, most deserters are not conscientious objectors. The most common reasons given for desertion are dissatisfaction with military life, family problems and homesickness….

The decision of a soldier to desert has serious consequences for both him and his unit. The Military and the American people should never send a message to our soldiers that their actions don’t have consequences.

Common is the attitude expressed by thisMarine son of a Congressman:

Growing up, he said, he never much liked politics and the thought of following in his father’s footsteps never occurred to him. Iraq changed that.

“It was when I was over in Fallujah in 2004, I decided that I would like to keep serving,” he said. “There’s nothing greater than serving your country.”

Hunter said that after his third tour of duty in Iraq, he sees his role as being the voice of experience to combat what he regards as ignorant rhetoric and harmful actions about Iraq coming out of Congress.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous what’s going on, and it’s pretty despicable trying to tie a timetable from a bunch of civilians in Congress who know nothing about war fighting,” he said.
Hunter said his experience in Iraq has convinced him that the war is winnable.

That’s Duncan Hunter’s son, who will run for his father’s vacated seat, remote from Iraq.

Bruce “McQ” McQuain does an excellentveteran’s demolition of the NYT’s skew.

None of us who’ve served during earlier wars, and none who currently serve, are “John Wayne,” or try to be anything but of service to our fellows, our country, and those we aid. For the NYT’s and Zielbauer to besmirch that, by inferring our service is under duress, is really more indicative of their abnormal psychology, particularly when they don’t report or emphasize the courage and contributions of the 99% who proudly serve.

Reprinted with permission of Bruce N. Kesler,  ChFC REBC RHU CLU

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