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We Sent Them To War, Now It’s Our Turn To Pay

Perhaps only ancient Sparta claimed to support its military more than the United States. From the “soldiers get priority boarding” ritual that happens only in American airports, to elections where a decision not to serve is forever held against a candidate, there are daily reminders that “the troops” are a presence in our society like few others.

The desire to claim a piece of that presence leads to elaborate lies, known as “stolen valor [1].” People buy regulation uniforms and walk through society showing off medals, telling fake war stories, and accepting unearned thanks. They want the juice without having endured the squeeze. They are out there this Veteran’s Day, and they are to be loathed.

But while some fake service, in too many ways society fakes support.

These are just numbers until you put a face on them. In my case, the face belonged to Brian Edward Hutson (name changed).

I heard [7] about Private First Class Brian Edward Hutson’s death at breakfast and walked over to his trailer. As a State Department foreign service officer, I spent a year embedded with the Army in Iraq at several smaller forward operating bases (FOBs). Hutson had put the barrel of his rifle into his mouth, and with the weapon set for a three-round burst blew out the back of his skull. I saw the fan spray on the wall, already being washed off by the Bangladeshi cleaning crew. The bleach solution they used was smearing more than cleaning, and the Bangladeshis had little stomach to wring out the mop heads all that often. The blood smelled coppery and though I never smelled such an odor before or since I can summon it into my mind at any time I wish, and other times when I don’t.

The ritual prescribed by regulation was the same, whether the death was by suicide or in combat. The chapel had rows of chairs set up, much as it would in Ohio or Georgia for a wedding, only at the front of the room was a wooden box with holes for the U.S. and the unit flag and a slot to stand the deceased’s rifle. Hutson’s human remains were likely already on their way home. The box was made of plywood, stained and varnished like paneling, and reminded everyone of a high school wood shop project. The dead man’s boots stood on either side of the rifle, with his helmet on top.

There was a program with the official Army photo of the deceased, posed in front of an American flag—you could see a few red pockmarks on the side of his face, a chicken pox scar on his forehead. All these photos showed a vacant stare, same as every high school graduation photo. The chaplain read the 23rd Psalm.

The required speeches were strained because the senior officers who had to speak at these events rarely knew, or could possibly know among the many troops under them, the deceased. The dead man’s job had something to do with radios and most present didn’t say much beyond that. The eulogy thus rang a bit hollow, but you reminded yourself the words were not necessarily intended for you and that the colonel may not have been the best man for the job. He was, though, a responsible man, trying hard to do something impossible, and he probably felt bad for his lack of conviction, and that he was not a Pericles or Lincoln.


The last speaker was by tradition someone acquainted with the deceased. In this ceremony, things were especially awkward. The dead man had taken his life after only a few months in the Army and even less time at this FOB. Nobody had befriended him, and this being the third suicide on the FOB made the whole thing especially grim. The ceremony felt rushed, like an over-rehearsed school play where the best performance had taken place the night before.

But sometimes things surprised you, maybe because of low expectations, maybe because every once in awhile somebody stood up and said just what needed to be said. A young Captain rose without notes. “I was his team leader but I never really knew him. Brian was new here. He didn’t have no nickname and he didn’t spend much time with us. He played Xbox a lot. We don’t know why he committed suicide. We miss him anyway because he was one of us. That’s all I have to say.”

In Iraq. (Courtesy of Peter Van Buren)

The ceremony ended with the senior enlisted person calling the roll for the dead man’s unit. Each member answered, “Here, Sergeant Major” after his name was called. That was until the name called was the dead man’s. “Brian Hutson?” Silence. “Brian E. Hutson?” Silence. “Private First Class Brian Edward Hutson?” Silence. Brian was not there and almost none of us had known him but yes, that day, at that place, we all missed him anyway.

We will hear a lot this Veterans Day about supporting the troops and thanking them for their service. Please do those things; they deserve it.

But don’t traffic in empty words. We best remember Private First Class Brian Edward Hutson by taking care of the brothers and sisters of his we created. If our nation insists on being so quick to send men and women into harm’s way, then it best face its obligation to take care of them beyond early boarding and discounts on wings ‘n beer. Food, shelter, health care, pre-/post enlistment counseling—that’s how you support the troops on Veterans Day, and every other day. One less fighter plane, a few less tanks, that would pay for much of what is needed.

For all the talk this Veteran’s Day about how much we owe those who serve, no one ever demands we pay up.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well [8]: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, and Hooper’s War [9]: A Novel of WWII Japan. He is also a regular contributor to TAC.

Follow him on Twitter @WeMeantWell

31 Comments (Open | Close)

31 Comments To "We Sent Them To War, Now It’s Our Turn To Pay"

#1 Comment By Fred Bowman On November 9, 2017 @ 10:17 pm


#2 Comment By MEOW On November 9, 2017 @ 11:20 pm

Beautifully written. Thank you. How very true. “We” send them to war.

Today this may be the neocons. Yesterday some other group. It is still we. We stand silent and unashamed at they do and die. We must protest this unabashed exploitation of the youth of our fellows by the few.

There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘

The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind—
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!
Sir Henry Newbolt

#3 Comment By Whine Merchant On November 10, 2017 @ 12:45 am

“to elections where a decision not to serve is forever held against a candidate” – unless they are a self-serving false-flag conservative.

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

#4 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 10, 2017 @ 6:52 am

Father, forgive us, for we so obviously know not what we do.

But how to genuinely thank someone for a “service” that is so obviously not needed, in the context of misbegotten foreign imperial wars to profit and expand control by elites?

#5 Comment By J Harlan On November 10, 2017 @ 7:54 am

With the end of the draft no one has been “sent to war”. Rather well paid professional soldiers have asked to go. The wars that have been fought in the AVF era have been optional. None have “kept out freedoms”. They have been fought for a complex web of personal and institutional desires that have actually served to weaken America.

If you wish to end the national security state which has brought on so many senseless military adventures then paying more for soldiers and continually extolling their virtues and patriotism is exactly the wrong way to do it. You get what you pay for and if spend more on soldiers you’ll get more war.

#6 Comment By Potato On November 10, 2017 @ 9:25 am

I was recently fitted with an artificial limb, the result of a civilian injury.

But many of the patients I met in this process were ex (or current) military people. There were all sorts of traumatic injuries, mostly (because of the context) people who had lost limbs in combat. And at a local prayer breakfast near the clinic I heard of many veterans who had killed themselves immediately after returning to the States, and many more who suffered from PTSD or varieties of it.

The atmosphere in this context forbade asking this question aloud, but I could not help but wonder about the wisdom of sending these courageous people into war in the first place. What were these wars, after all? It is 2017, we are not talking about stopping Hitler, we are talking about inconclusive brush wars, mostly in the Near East, most of which we lost. The whole thing feels so pointless.

The least we can do is ensure that these returning soldiers receive the best we have to offer, not so much good seats on the plane as first-class medical and psychiatric treatment, financial and emotional support, whatever they need. The most we can do is to stop generating so many casualties in the first place.

#7 Comment By Colin Chattan On November 10, 2017 @ 10:09 am

Reading this essay I couldn’t help but recall Siegfried Sassoon’s “Suicide in the Trenches” whose last stanza contains one of the most concentrated expressions of fury in English literature:

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

#8 Comment By A C Metcalf On November 10, 2017 @ 10:51 am


#9 Comment By MEOW On November 10, 2017 @ 11:21 am

“With the end of the draft no one has been sent to war.” This argument feeds right into the neoconservatives insatiable desire for wars not in the interest of the US. How can young enlistees dichotomize between the patriotic utterances of their families, MSM, and especially the bought and paid for politicians with the reality that in recent years they are being asked to serve a foreign cause? TAC just sacked Philip Giraldi because of his propensity, to tell the truth, and TAC is a unique and inquisitive magazine by most standards.

#10 Comment By Jared Speaks On November 10, 2017 @ 11:32 am

I always have mixed feelings about this, for several reasons. This article however seems to be touching on a couple of points, taking care of veterans and mental health/suicide. The author indicates with the title that the article is about taking care of veterans, but he never talks about how exactly that should be done. Mr. Van Buren simply points out some of the issues in the VA health system, and a few of the public’s hollow gestures, but that is about it. He never once suggests exactly how he feels veterans should be cared for, or where the resources to do so would come from, or any of the other specific. Rather, he expends most of his article quoting statistics about mental health and brain injuries with a focus on a story of suicide and the corresponding fallen soldier memorial.

I have little doubt that there is some sincerity in Mr. Van Buren’s intent, but I have to ask myself if in some ways his article isn’t an empty gesture in itself. Why? Read it again. Does he really do anything more than tell a sad story, list some negative points, and essentially say “Veterans deserve better?” Outside of Mr. Van Buren’s article, I know nothing about him, so I am not judging him, but I am suggesting that this article has little to offer outside of a cursory reminder at a rather opportune moment. And while that may not be without merit, I personally find it to be just as lacking as the hollow gestures he is calling attention to.

But to the points he addresses in the article. I just do not know for sure what the expectation is when we speak of taking care of our veterans. What does that even mean? To every veteran, it likely means something different, but as a point of national policy, how do we define that? What does success in that area look like? And where do we draw the lines? Inevitably that turns into a conversation primarily about the V.A., specifically the medical system.

And what do we expect from our citizenry? I honestly think that most American’s are grateful, but they don’t know what to do or say. It is awkward for both sides. That is at least in part why we end up with so many well intended but otherwise hollow gestures. It’s practically a catch-22.

As far as mental health and the military is concerned, I am convinced there is a whole lot more to that conversation than just about anyone ever touches upon. Yes I believe that there are stresses inherent to life in the military that can certainly contribute to the mental illnesses we witness. However, particularly when talking about suicide, I have to wonder if military members ENTER the military with a predisposition to suicidal tendencies that is already significantly higher than the general population. I believe that is true, although to what extent I could not really say. The point is, there are more contributing factors to the higher suicide rates among current/former service members that just military service. But ultimately the real question is what do we do about it?

Personally, I do not want a free coffee at Starbucks or a meal at Denny’s or…whatever on Veterans Day. I could care less about loading the plane early, or getting a discount on a night’s stay at a hotel. The tax payer paid me, literally paid me, for me service. A service I volunteered for by the way, and a job I needed and enjoyed. And everywhere I have gone, I have been treated with respect and thanked for my service. What more could I ask for?

I recognize that has not been everyone’s experience. I am not saying that we cannot do better. I am not suggesting that we should not endeavor to take better care of our veterans. Certainly, we can improve in a multitude of areas, but in others I honestly think we ask too much. In some areas, I think Veterans are just as guilty of the entitlement mentality the millennials are constantly accused of.

Ultimately, I am simply asking, what solutions do you propose? Anyone can point the finger at what’s wrong with society. But there seem to be few who are actively part of the solution.

#11 Comment By SteveM On November 10, 2017 @ 1:15 pm

Re: “For all the talk this Veteran’s Day about how much we owe those who serve”

Agree with J Harlan. The U.S. military is an all volunteer force. They sign up under their own free will. Killing and destroying and maybe getting shot at is in the job description. The arrogance and stupidity of the Washington Elites that send them to engage in wasteful, destructive Global Cop shenanigans have been evident for decades which should have dissuaded the volunteers who do sign up to find something better to do with their lives.

Yes, the veterans who get chewed up in the machinery of war should be effectively assisted. But I’m sorry, if a veteran were to tell me that he served 3 tours in Iraq, I would not reply “Thank you for your service!” Because slaughtering Iraqis is not “defending my freedoms”. But rather, “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you get out after your first tour?” Pro-Life Americans should be demonstrating in front of recruitment centers as well as abortion clinics and discouraging would-be recruits from signing up.

It’s time Americans became aware that they are being played by the massive propaganda apparatus of the Security State that sanctifies the military as a diversion away from how it is pathologically employed. Calling uniformed military “Warrior-Heroes” obscures the fact they could have contributed more to this nation and their communities by getting productive jobs at home than by mucking about dystopian sandboxes 6,000 miles away from American shores.

Until America rejects the quasi-religious propaganda of military exceptionalism, confronts all of the actors (civilian and uniformed military) attached to the War Machine and challenges them to justify their participation in blatant hegemonic idiocy and massive taxpayer dollar waste, we are only going to get much more of the same.

#12 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 10, 2017 @ 2:20 pm

“But how to genuinely thank someone for a “service” that is so obviously not needed, in the context of misbegotten foreign imperial wars to profit and expand control by elites?”

Because that choice is not on them it never was or is. That is on us. SO all the more reason to thank them for catering to needless tasks.

I say appreciate your service. It is not important that they appreciate my appreciation in return. I want the VA to work and work well on their behalf with as little or no hassles at all.

#13 Comment By balconesfault On November 10, 2017 @ 4:42 pm

Fulfilling our obligation to our veterans requires money.

For example – I’ve long believed that the problems we saw with Walter Reed (my birthplace) and VA hospitals around the country had to do with underfunding, and hospital administrators understanding that their jobs depended on covering up that underfunding by skimping on facility maintenance, playing games with schedule documentation, and other games. When either bad statistics or asking for the amount of money needed to do the job right will both cost you your career – most people will deal with that Hobbes choice by cheating. It’s sadly inevitable, and anyone who runs an organization without realizing that will eventually learn that reality.

But screwing our veterans in order to balance the budget has a long tradition, going back to when Robert Morris suspended payments to the Continental Army, and reaching epic status when Hoover sent in Douglas McArthur to clean out the pension seeking WWI veterans camping on the Mall. And of course, then Senator Jeff Sessions only a couple years ago equated veterans benefits to an “entitlement program” that needed reined in.

A generation ago, it took a family doctor willing to fudge a little to protect wealthy families from military service. Thanks to the all-volunteer army, the wealthy have largely avoided service by funding jingoistic ad campaigns that encouraged others to serve, and upping military benefits to allow the military to compete for talent in the marketplace.

You didn’t really believe that they’d want to keep endlessly paying the tab, did you? There are tax cuts to be passed. Priorities, priorities.

#14 Comment By Potato On November 10, 2017 @ 6:01 pm

“well paid professional soldiers”

I don’t know about that. I am reading that many military families qualify for food stamps. That doesn’t sound “well paid” to me.

#15 Comment By One Guy On November 10, 2017 @ 6:05 pm

“What if they gave a war and nobody came?” Because nobody had volunteered?

The US Military is a Jobs Program, first and foremost. We pay people to make tanks and bullets and canteens and we need them to be destroyed so we can buy more. Uncle Joe keeps his job at the bullet factory, and politicians have something to brag about on Veterans Day. And, I suppose, the poor schmucks without marketable skills get paid, and maybe learn a skill.

The whole thing is a myth. Thanks to God I’m an American, not an Iraqi.

#16 Comment By Sokollu On November 10, 2017 @ 6:41 pm

Thinking about how to remember war is difficult. I live near Washington and spent the afternoon at the National Gallery seeing the lovely Vermeer and colleagues exhibit.

Walking back to the Metro, I saw an unusual exhibit on the lawn of the National Archives: a Vietnam-era helicopter prominently emblazed as “Widowmaker”. My reactions:

1. Yikes! That’s a really ugly message.
2. But wait – war is about killing; why disguise it? If the copter were called ” Home of the Brave,” or some similar glossy euphemism, wouldn’t that be much worse? Let’s not hide from the fact that war makes widows,and orphans.
3. But this is triumphalism.
4. Such slogans are attempts to shore up morale of young, sometimes frightened, troops.
5. Does the Vietnam context matter? Would I feel any twinge at “Widowmaker” slaughtering SS guards at Auschwitz?

Sorry to inflict my ruminations on readers – I’d welcome any thoughts from anyone who’s read this far. Thanks.

#17 Comment By John On November 10, 2017 @ 8:28 pm

I heard the usual platitudes on the radio today about how it was not N who gave us X right, be it freedom of speech, religion, etc. No soldier gives us rights, either, but God almighty as we are created equal and in His image. If the military can give these rights, then they are only conditional privileges, subject to the whim of those who control the military. After all, Ron Silver was reminded that “those are our jets now” during an over flight at the Clinton inauguartion.

The simple truth is that war is ugly, evil, immoral, and seldom necessary. A quick study of the history of wars show that they are mostly started for the benefit of the ruling class, or someone sick of the oppression of a ruling class. Even today, we get Trumpian sabre rattling over North Korea, after promises of staying out of foreign entanglements went right out the window. We also can’t forget Bush’s “humbler foreign policy.” Maybe for an encore, instead of painting “wounded warriors,” he can redo “the course of empire.”

Then what of the veteran? Unless there is a draft, there is no real opposition to war, which is why Code Pink failed. When lower class kids die in someplace no one knows about, it is hidden and no pain is born across society, for they are disposable, be it if they are in a uniform or cleaning tables or digging ditches. It is only when the middle and upper class see a sword hanging over the heads of their children that they begin to ask real questions and stage real opposition to war. Until then, there are free meals for veterans twice a year and a decadent empire which fuels their cars on the blood of the dead as surely as they do on oil.

#18 Comment By J Harlan On November 10, 2017 @ 9:11 pm

“well paid professionals”. For the sake of the discussion I’ll assume the food bank recipients aren’t using the charity to allow for spending on smokes and booze etc.

No entry unskilled entry level job does or should pay enough to raise a family. If you’re a 21 year old Spec 4 with no skills and two kids and a spouse who doesn’t work you’re in trouble. But in that same unit at the same rank they’ll will be single soldiers getting paid plenty to learn a skill. Who else pays a 18 year old to learn how to fix engines?

But what % of the force are low ranking enlisted with dependents? What’s the median rank? E-6?

The military is well paid- for the skills they bring. If a soldier has a chaotic family or financial situation then exactly like civilians they’ll be stressed.

If you want privates to be able to comfortably pay for several dependents imagine what that would do to DOD’s budget and the fall out from even more defense spending.

#19 Comment By Johann On November 11, 2017 @ 12:58 am

Primarily a moral failure of the church: allowing her children to become a cog in a killing machine that has (almost) nothing to do with defense. Why do my young friends enlist? Money, opportunities, accelerated careers (aka, the world, the flesh, and the devil). What region has the US military improved through invasion and occupation? Why is it not clear to all that the US military is a force for evil and controlled by evil forces? Can we not at least stop sending our (the church’s) children into the conflagration? If we don’t care about the brown people they will kill, can we not muster some hesitation considering their spiritual prospects?

#20 Comment By John On November 11, 2017 @ 9:05 am

Oh, and instead of the bromides that are trotted out every year around this time, what about public readings of “War is a Racket”?

#21 Comment By Potato On November 11, 2017 @ 9:08 am

@J Harlan
So, you’re telling us that

1. An entry level soldier does not and should not make enough money to support a wife who does not work plus two children.

OK. But I have no idea how much money he does make, or whether that amount of money adds up to “plenty” if he is single.

2. Then you ask But what % of the force are low ranking enlisted with dependents? What’s the median rank? E6?

For those of us out here who are not in the military, and who have no idea whatever what a rank of “E6” means, could you answer these questions?

3. Then you assert, on that “evidence “ (those questions are evidence ?) that The military is well paid – for the skills they bring and go on to tell us that soldiers in financial trouble brought it on themselves.

Well, that might depend on how many soldiers are having trouble feeding themselves and their families. If it’s quite a lot, that would be different from finding out that it’s only a very few improvident individuals.

As I admitted in my original post, I got my impression on this point out of the newspapers, from articles that were not specific on any of these points. Again, since you seem to know something about the subject, it might be useful for you to include a few facts.

But then you get to the real point: it would cost a lot of money to pay soldiers a living wage.

Yes, I imagine that it would.

Perhaps market forces will catch up with the apparent desire of some in the ruling class to wage pointless war after pointless war. I read that the services are having trouble recruiting, and that standards have been lowered.

What if we gave a war and no one came?

#22 Comment By Potato On November 11, 2017 @ 9:11 am

To the moderator: I made a mess of my tags. Italics should stop after “does” and take up again before “But what %…”

I’m sorry.

We need an edit function.

#23 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 12, 2017 @ 7:06 am

My responsibility is to care for others as life places them before me. However, I sent no one to war, nor did I assent to it, and I would change the policies or sacrifice to do so were I given the responsibility.

I would like to say to those who didn’t, thank you for not serving, for not going to war, were you tempted to do so.

#24 Comment By ScottA On November 12, 2017 @ 9:10 pm

It seems like most of the population where I live, including many vets themselves, celebrated Veterans Day by fighting heavy traffic on the roads to shop at sales at local stores.

I understand that the US needs a military that is strong enough so we can adequately defend ourselves, but as others have pointed out if fewer people volunteered the endless wars would have to end, for political reasons, because a draft wouldn’t go over so well with the general population today.

And the truth is a lot of the most highly trained soldiers at the tip of the spear are there because they like being trained killers and like fighting and killing people. If they didn’t, they are in the wrong line of work. Our military obviously needs trained killers like this, but just saying.

#25 Comment By furbo On November 13, 2017 @ 8:48 am

Wow, there are some really angry folks here, J Harlan and Steve M. Would ask that you back up, and try to separate People – your fellow citizens, from Policy Decisions you don’t care for. They are very different issues. As to the attitude of “I sent no one to war”. Yes, you certainly did. As an American you are a citizen of a Republic where governmental power resides with the People and is exercised thru their elected representatives on their behalf.

#26 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 13, 2017 @ 10:02 am

“I would like to say to those who didn’t, thank you for not serving, for not going to war, were you tempted to do so.”

I understand why want to sever any ties to what you consider an intrinsic evil. I really do. But when I joined the service, I was kid who thought i owed omething to the nation that bore me. I still feel that way. I think it is a mistake to alot all who sign up are signing up for war. As many have noted above, the services is a sound choice towards opportunities that serve well once out of the military. And the country pays for those skills and educational gains. I cannot deny for lower in income or those who have missed such opportunity, the military is a way up and out.

I am uncomfortable with stamping ill motive on someone using the military as a way out or embraces a desire to serve as native son or daughter just because somewhere in that process they might be called to a combat, even unnecessary combat.

#27 Comment By Wizard On November 13, 2017 @ 1:47 pm

Here’s step one of my plan to “support the troops”: stop pissing away their lives in pointless wars.

#28 Comment By b. On November 13, 2017 @ 7:22 pm

Support the Veterans – not the Generals, not the President. Support the conscientious objector, even if you disagree. Support the soldier that refuses to “just follow orders”.

Do your damn job – end illegal wars for profit, no matter the cost.

Nobody can expect an enlisted man to uphold the Constitution when the commissioned officers fail to do so. But above all, no citizen can expect a soldier to refuse to follow illegal orders if we do not clear out every single incumbent who failed his or her duty under the Constitution.

This is worse than Evangelicals doubling down on a pedophile, it is all of us doubling down on oath breakers and war criminals across both parties.

But then, I wonder what the devout Christians of the revised faith are to make of soldiers committing suicide. Is there a pass on a mortal sin of desperation, given that we already dispensed with the First Commandment? Or is that the hollowed ground on which we are to take a principled stand? Organized religion without spirituality and principles is such a malleable thing.

#29 Comment By J Harlan On November 14, 2017 @ 8:36 am

furbo. “I’m just doing my job”. Doesn’t almost everyone who does something they deep down know they shouldn’t say that? “Yeah I bombed the wedding party but I was just doing my job.” “Yeah we overthrew the government of X but I was just doing my job”. “I was only following orders”. Of course the last only works if your side wins the war or at least you don’t get captured.

The idea that since the government did something “we all did it” isn’t true. Don’t we regularly claim “we’re not against the people of Y just their bad leaders”?

#30 Comment By J Harlan On November 14, 2017 @ 8:44 am

Potato. Military pay rates are posted online. A recruit in training gets paid a rate of ~ $ 24,000 annually- but that’ll go up as he passes courses and doesn’t include allowances or tax breaks that he may eventually be qualified for. Is that a lot? If you’re single with no dependents and no debt that’s plenty. If you have a family obviously it’s not but who pays 18 year olds with nothing more than grade 12 enough to raise a family?

Although the folks who want all the troops to live without financial worries may have their heart in the right place it’s not practical or reasonable to expect the tax payers to pay low ranking people enough to comfortably support families on a single income.

#31 Comment By Low Voltage On November 14, 2017 @ 9:46 pm

Instead, maybe we should pay reparations to the countries we destroyed?