I'm also on active duty, which means I have voluntarily given up some of my first amendment rights in order to serve my country. But I still have a right to express my opinion within the limits of Department of Defense regulations. My opinions are my own, and do not reflect any official policy.
So I'd like to express my opinion in saying that I feel insulted and degraded by the stunt this week by the Obama campaign. I differentiate between the Obama campaign and my commander in chief, President Barrack Obama, because the stunt in question was clearly identified as a campaign stop, rather than a official function of the Office of the President.
As reported in several news sources, the President happened to stop into a cafe where he just happened to sit at a table with three veterans, who just happened to express their views on healthcare. This event just happened to occur right after the president addressed the VFW, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. According to initial reports, the President made an impromptu visit to the cafe.
But later, questions were raised about the Obama campaign having full biographies of the veterans right after the President spoke to these three 'random individuals'. As the press dug into the story, it turns out that the three veterans had Obama campaign connections, and had been driven to the event by the Obama campaign staff-
On Tuesday morning, all three met with a staffer and were driven to the restaurant and arrived shortly before Obama. The three said the restaurant workers and other patrons received notice only a few minutes before the president arrived.I am insulted that the Obama campaign would feel that such a transparent political stunt would sway the average American voter, let alone the voter who is also a veteran of the US military. It shows to me that the Obama campaign sees veterans in one simple way-a potential voting block to be courted, pandered to, and ultimately lied to. The average American veteran is better informed, better traveled, and more experienced with the concept of a 'dog and pony show' than is the average American voter.
I feel degraded that the Obama campaign has so little respect for the service of the very men and women who secured the freedom of our country, who risked their lives to ensure free elections, and who gave of themselves for the security of all, that they would use such men as campaign props. This stunt belittles the importance of everything veterans swore themselves to defend, and relegates our nation's warriors as little more than pawns in the larger game of political theater.
Veterans are not victims, as I have posted about near a dozen times in my blogging history. We don't need to be pandered to, lied to, or given false promises to. We do need to have the promises of our previous generations honored-full medical benefits for life for those prior to the Gulf War-and full medical for service connected disabilities for those Gulf War and after. We need to be afforded the respect we are owed by our government-not shown false scenarios of politicians who pretend to care in front of the cameras. We need to be treated as honored and dedicated members of our society, who set aside our personal needs for a greater good.
Finding three campaign volunteers who just happened to be veterans and shuttling them off to an insulting photo op with the president not only demeans the veterans in question, it demeans the man running for re-election, and it threatens to taint the commander in chief himself.
I believe I have a right to expect more out of the man I call commander in chief. I certainly know I have the right to expect more out of the candidate who wants my vote for president this November.
I am a veteran.
The opinions expressed above are mine, mine alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of any other member of the MN National Guard, the US Army, or the Veterans of Foreign Wars.