Category: Defense

Forgotten Patriots

It’s that time of year again when Pastors and Rabbis around the nation will acknowledge our active military, our veterans and their families for the great sacrifices they’ve made on behalf of the citizens of the greatest nation in the world. As we rightly honor these, let’s not forget the sacrifices and service of their civilian counterparts, for we are a region which is just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the Army’s lead developer of ground systems and its logistics center, an area where a number of our current and retired servants also call our worship centers their home.

Each is extremely proud of the contributions they’ve made to support and protect our men and women in uniform. Yet few outside the DoD fraternity realize the shoulder-to-shoulder sacrifices these dedicated civilians have faithfully endured. During the Vietnam conflict we were subject to the same verbal abuses from our acquaintances as our brothers in uniform, for our support of the military industrial complex. During the Gulf Wars we participated in the same inconveniences and dangers when many of us volunteered to go into the field with the green-suiters to provide logistics support or to gather technical data. We’ve mourned friends who made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield and when the Pentagon was struck on 9-11, and we’ve worked to calm the spirits of those who suffered despondency after they returned home.

Over our careers, which sometimes have stretched across decades, most have spent an inordinate time away from family, especially during periods of crisis. We’ve taken that 3:00 am call and reported immediately to the local Commander or to a distant military installation to devise strategies to defend our fellow citizens. Spending holidays at the Pentagon, at test sites, at black sites or overseas is not all that unusual – something our kids and spouses never seem to understand or get used to.

Few of us have had our contributions recognized outside of our immediate supervision or our fellow comrades in arms. Most of my comrades’ efforts were performed in anonymity.  Yet as this year’s three patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day) are observed this May, July and November, I and my friends will once again faithfully and silently salute all those who once wore the uniform.

May God bless America and may He give peace and comfort to green-suiter and civilian DoD employee alike.

Veterans’ advocates hit the Hill

A group advocating the rights of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are on the Hill this week to press lawmakers on issues ranging from disability care to high rates of unemployment.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the largest organization for veterans of the wars, will host a series of events as a part of their Storm the Hill campaign this week, culminating in Thursday’s release of their legislative agenda for 2010.

Top priorities include improving the claims processing system for disabled veterans, addressing the suicide epidemic among service members and improving the Veterans Affairs Department’s health care services for women.

This is the fifth annual trip for the group, which was founded in 2004. Starting Monday, the veterans will form teams named for the military alphabet — Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc. — and will meet with more than 100 lawmakers to discuss their issues.

The veterans were originally scheduled to meet with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, who died Monday.