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Military On Culture War Front Lines

This e-mail came from a medical officer in the US military. I publish it with his permission:

By no means am I getting rich but I make surprisingly good money, enjoy what I do, and have pretty great job security. In accordance with my personal convictions, I am in a non-combat role — this may sound like splitting hairs since I am still in the military but I sleep at night knowing that my job helps save lives, not take them. My plan has always been to serve my time and then reap the wonderful retirement the military offers. But now, I am not so sure. Culturally, today’s military is nothing like it was a mere 4 years ago and 180 degrees from where it was a decade ago.

Four years ago, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) was still official policy. Approximately a week ago, I received a memo outlining a policy and a way ahead for reassignment surgery for transgender troops, something that would have been absurd in 2012. I cannot state this enough: this is how far we have come in 4 years. On top of that, I find it profoundly disturbing that what seems to be psychosis is treated via grotesque mutilation of the human body that, clinically, has shown very few positive psychological results. Military medicine has one of the most robust mental health networks in the entire country. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have mental health issues from depression and anxiety to PTSD and substance abuse are treated and continually evaluated for their fitness to serve. But, transgender troops have now been given the go ahead (and to be fair, there is a lengthy approval process) to remove or disfigure sexual organs, take hormones, and call it good — all at the expense of the taxpayer. What world are we living in?

Regarding who I am and what I stand for, I don’t even agree with DADT. It’s bad policy and I could give a damn if any of my troops are gay. In fact, in the last year I have had 3 homosexuals serve in my direct command and all 3 are excellent at what they do. All 3 received promotion based in large part upon my evaluation of their performance. The military has always been a meritocracy but that’s changing. You see, I am not worried about some of the fantastic men and women who have served in my command. I am, however, worried about the dirtbag (military-speak for a do-nothing) who doesn’t deserve promotion and who, upon receipt of a poor performance report, accuses me, a trad Christian, of anti-gay bias. That day isn’t here yet but the writing is on the wall. It is coming fast and there is no promise of respite under Hillary Clinton who, let’s just be honest, is likely to win in the biggest landslide in 30 years. We must not forget that she has basically stated that she does not think freedom of religion extends past Sunday and churches who are on the “wrong” side of history, as it were, must change their ways. In other words, in her mind it’s not enough to be kind, considerate, and fair whilst agreeing to disagree.

As an aside (but since I brought up presidential politics), I would also like to note that my anecdotal impression is that Republicans, with their nomination of Trump, have lost the military voter. For the first time in my career, the seeming majority of troops are voting for the Democrat. After Hillary, it seems Gary Johnson draws the most support. I have had several non-religious, non-culturally conservative troops say they have always voted for Republicans because they felt like they were the party that really supported the troops. Unfortunately for the Republicans, I think we can mark 2016 as the year they lost an entire generation of military voters. Granted, we are not the biggest voting bloc but we vote and we overwhelmingly supported the Republicans. Of course, I am not voting for Trump so why should I be surprised?

I am simply hoping to convey the cultural shift experienced across the military within a very short time. I guess I will close by saying this: those who have served for 10 years or longer started their careers as pawns in the Bush administration’s interventionist wars and will likely end their careers as pawns in the Obama and/or Clinton administration’s 41Yq7npz9AL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_culture wars. I will say it again: I truly believe the US military is on the front lines of our country’s culture wars. The worst part is that I don’t think anything can be done right now. In an attempt to bring this full circle, I planned on retiring out of the military but now my family is strongly considering pulling our lifestyle way, way back and living according to BenOp principles. By no means do I wish to sound alarmist but if we wish to pursue a life of peace and piety, BenOp may be the only way forward.

I look forward to the book and, in many ways, I hope we are wrong. But like you, I don’t think that’s the case.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers and I ask you do the same. It’s not easy out there, right now.

In the title of his email, the reader said that the US military is no place for Christian traditionalists. I have a question to you Christian readers who are now on active duty, or are veterans: Would you encourage faithful orthodox Christians to serve in the US military?

Why or why not?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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