In the fleet, there is one breed of newcomer many of us could not tolerate: the recently returned from recruiting duty petty officer first class (E-6). These types would return to the fleet after two to three years of being out in the real world, far, far away from Navy life in everything but uniforms and evaluations. Most of them generally were worn out by recruiting duty to the point that when they got to the fleet, they could not be bothered to take the sort of proactive and prolonged leadership roles others could.
Now, why do I share this boring fleet tale? Because for the longest, I have been convinced that recruiting should not be done by active duty personnel. It takes proven performers in a military environment (a ship, a tank unit, a combat zone, a squadron) and sticks them in an office environment conducive to every level of fraud and deception imaginable, all to get a few recruits in the service per quarter. Worse, we get stuck with far too many people who have no business being in the military in the first place, placed there by active duty recruiters under stress to get people in whatever the costs, damn the lies involved. (Want an example? How about the ex-gang member from the Kitty Hawk who killed an older Japanese woman in cold blood in winter 2006?)
So, I bring this up because of a sickening report from Time (with loads of quotes from active duty personnel involved as well as the p’od Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn) about the climate of lies, deceit and personal destruction of decorated war veterans by recruiting bosses in Houston, TX. This is but the most profound symptom of a system that should be overhauled and reformed, starting with the use of retired or honorably discharged military personnel as recruiters instead of active duty people with far more productive things to do for the country.
The Houston battalion’s punishing work hours were also beyond what was expected. In June 2007, Bostick issued a written order to the 5th Recruiting Brigade and its Houston battalion requiring commanders to clarify the battalion’s fuzzy work-hour policy, which could be read as requiring 13-hour workdays. He demanded a new policy “consistent with law and regulation.” The brigade and battalion commanders ignored the order.
By mid-2008, a Houston battalion commander complained to subordinates of “getting numerous calls on recruiters being called ‘dirtbags’ or ‘useless’ when they do not accomplish mission each month.” He’d heard that recruiters who had been promised birthdays or anniversaries off were being “called back to work on the day of the anniversary and during the birthday and/or anniversary party when they already had family and friends at their homes.” To improve morale, the battalion’s leadership decided to hold a picnic last July 26. “Family fun is mandatory,” read an internal e-mail.
Op tempo in the past seven years or so for the military has been extraordinarily high for some. Hundreds of thousands have served abroad in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Strain, stress and assorted personnel problems (divorces, DUIs, etc) are a significant weight on the shoulders of many service members, whether through their personal experiences or the added responsibility and duties such events place on an individual unit’s plate.
That said, for those serving, this is a promising time. Secretary Gates has returned and the prospects of more reform and improvement have rarely been more feasible. For those departing the service, a new VA Secretary and a new GI Bill promise and outright offer significant benefits that are a good down payment on a better post-service future.
There is much work to be done, yet already progress not conceivable years ago has happened. Organizations like IAVA have been stood up in recent years and are already paying dividends (consider the new GI Bill).
Thus, I read William Lind’s latest (H/T The Strategist) and I can’t help but blanch a bit. Yes, the possibility of a small minority of disgruntled veterans bringing 4GW to America is a disturbing thought. Indeed, I think (especially with the eventual spread of violence from Mexico’s ongoing troubles) that this will happen, as it was bound to occur to some degree irregardless of whatever security theater program was crafted to secure the borders.
Considering the hundreds of thousands of veterans who will receive extensive education benefits from the new GI Bill (on a far greater scale than anything since the post WW-2 era), I believe this will far outweigh any eventual blow back from a minority of malcontents (whether they be freelancers for the Mexican drug lords or anti-government militias). The sort of expertise offered by veterans joining the law enforcement, intelligence and security communities alone is worth considering against the prospective negatives.
In harsh economic times, beginning in August of this year, a community of veterans from across the country will be able to attend college with nearly all their expenses paid while receiving a monthly living stipend between $750-1250 based on their geographic location. Save those who suffer from debilitating mental anguish incurred during their service (made worse by a severe problem of access, time and resources that President Obama will find enormous pressure from a new generation of veterans and their friends to resolve sooner than later), most post 9/11 veterans and their families will have an emotion in August unlike most Americans: genuine hope for a better future and the tools and opportunity to pursue it.
Four sailors are innocent of the murder they were convicted of. There is no evidence to suggest their guilt besides a questionable confession elicited by a corrupt police detective.
The state of Virginia continues to implausibly deny the confession of a known rapist and attempted murderer who has stated he is the sole murderer of the victim in question exonerates these veterans.
This case stinks so bad that four Virginia attorney generals from both the Republican and Democratic parties have come forward after examining the case to say the sailors are not guilty.
Their convictions are so heinous that twenty-eight retired FBI agents held a press conference yesterday and stated they unequivocally believe these sailors are innocent.
Free the Norfolk Four.