August 2, 1990

On this day in 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, within a few days, VMI alumni in the 82nd and USMC were standing as a thin shield in the desert. The defense of Saudi Arabia, retaking of Kuwait and defeat of Hussein was part of a continuum of combat experienced by VMI alumni of the 1980s and 1990s. There was Grenada. Then Panama in December of 1989. With Noriega’s capture and the collapse of the Soviet Empire, also known as the Warsaw Pact, some VMI Keydets wondered if they’d ever see combat. Then came August 2, 1990. Followed by Somalia and […]

VMI News: A New Superintendent?

Welcome aboard to the the newest member of the Board of Visitors, David Miller! By the way, sir, the helmet you’ll be issued is best used as a seat cushion. Miller describes an interesting duty for his first term. “When I was selected, it was such a humbling experience. I remember back in 1970, you had a bank of phones and I had to call my parents collect to tell them. I was so proud,” he said. Mr. Miller will help VMI select a new superintendent for the college during his four-year term on the board, which started July 1. […]

VA purging Vets from healthcare

Two stories from Military.com about the VA’s new initiatives in healthcare. Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA enrollment center in Atlanta, says 34,000 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan lost their eligibility for healthcare after the VA sat on their applications until they expired. The applications were designated as pending because they lacked income information. However, combat veterans are not required to verify their income when applying for VA benefits. Keep in mind the massive infusions of taxpayer cash into the VA. Where did the money go? A GS-05, on orders from much senior people, set aside applications […]

The Return of the Hollow Force

As the youngest of us here on Op-For, I remain in service to Columbia. I signed that dotted line prior to my rat year at VMI, the War in Iraq was at its height, the surge going into full swing and there was an initiative from President Bush Called “Grow the Army.”  “Grow the Army” the Army reached a height of 570,000 Soldiers.  We all thought then, that all of us would be going to war.  Many of us have, yet most of us have not.  I would say we’re both lucky in different ways. There was an officer in […]

To “Thank” or Not to Thank

I heard a good conversation with the author of this article, “Please don’t thank me for my service,” on WMAL yesterday. To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it. Recommended reading. It provoked thought. What say you?

“Rein in Disability Pay”

A good solid thought-provoking piece about a professor at West Point, named Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Gade– himself a disabled vet– who says ditch the cash: “The disability checks designed to help troops like them after they leave the service might actually be harmful.” This one’s worth some time. I’ll be very interested to hear what you think.

Draftee Retires After Forty-Two Years

This is a great story. We salute you, sir. Well done.

“Did You Kill Anybody While You Were in the Military?”

Courtesy of Mike B ’73, a piece on the “Complexity of Student Vets” from Inside Higher Education. … The question is one that young veterans on college campuses routinely face, McBain said Friday during a presentation on student veterans at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education here. Read and comment, if you would, please.

Book Review of George Marshall: A Biography

Not sure if I shall bother reading this new biography of George Marshall, but here is a review of it in the New Republic.  Concluding paragraph says a lot about George Marshall the man: For a military man, Marshall’s heroism was peculiar. It did not arise from his conduct on the battlefield. It arose from his modesty, including “a modest daily schedule that often ended at three or four o’clock in the afternoon” and his avoidance “of lucrative corporate board memberships so commonly available to retired high military officers in our more avaricious times.” Most importantly, Marshall’s modesty flowed from […]

The Burden of War

Falleth not upon the Soldier, or Marine, or Sailor, or Airman.  But on the people who sent him to that beach without water.  Here‘s an interesting article by Sebastian Junger who has spent much of his journalistic career embedded among Soldiers to tell their story. The Soldier. . .is a tool.  When you hammer a nail as you build a bed frame, what take responsibility for it?  The hammer?  I would say no.  It must be the person hammering the nail.  To that effect, the Soldier is a tool, he should not bear the majority of the pain or blame […]