Where do these Veterans with the attitude, “that Vet thing doesn’t cut it with me” get off! That’s right Veterans who don’t give a damn about their fellow Veterans. Yes, we have them and I am sure you have run into this strange breed. I had my experience with a few and unfortunately some that I helped because they were Vets. The aforementioned quote rolled off the lips of a retired senior SNCO, a Sgt Major in fact, and was directed towards another Marine SNCO Veteran. I have also seen it in retired officers who have ignored fellow Marines and Veterans in need. They understand the brotherhood only when it is convenient to them; they certainly give new meaning to the phrase Semper Fi, Mac!
These are the same types that use our special trust and confidence as a means to distort the truth and give credibility to their lies and self-serving agenda’s. We have recently seen an example of this with a Congressman and Marine “COLONEL”, but there are others. They are in all our communities. These are a strange breed and unfortunately, some of them are in positions to help in a positive way, but end up doing nothing positive when it comes to helping vets. They have no sense of brotherhood; it is all about them and their self promoting agendas. And in the end, they end up contributing to the negative efforts geared towards degrading the contributions and sacrifices of veterans. They side track much needed Veterans initiatives by giving those with an anti-veteran and military agenda help in furthering their attacks on veteran and military benefits.
The average citizen doesn’t see these individuals as anything other than a veteran who might have been a Marine Officer; they don’t know the differences Regular, Reserve, National Guard. We are just the military to them. As a result, some reserve officer’s ridiculous and sometimes less than Marine like behavior is viewed as credible. The Marine title, although reserve, gives the impression of a powerful and credible figure. It provides them with a platform of a proud and illustrious history and traditions to distort facts and spew lies that destroy the reputations of other Marines and our Corps.
Although I have seen this sort of behavior and attitude in some regular Marine Corps types, it unfortunately seems to be more prevalent in those associate with the reserves. Now, I do not mean to offend my reserve Marine brothers or sisters, especially the young enlisted Marines. Their intentions are honorable and their service is valued. But despite this, there are differences since WWII in the SNCO and Officer departments. As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “There are no bad regiments, only bad colonels”. Ain’t that the truth!
So, what is the difference between USMC and USMC-R for those who don’t know? Since WWII there has been a big difference. During WWII the reserves and signing up for the duration of the war created an added force of military personnel that were not much different from their fighting regular military counterparts. They shared all the same hardships and experiences in all the same theaters of war for the same lengths of time, but after the end of the war some reserves were discharged much sooner than the regulars. But they were, without exception, the same in fighting abilities and courage as their counterparts in the regular forces. The 1960's and 70' changed all this.
At this point, if anyone thinks I “have it out for the reserves”, I need only have to inform them that my initial introduction and eventually motivation to become a Marine was a result of a USMCR Marine. Although I never actually met him, stories of him and his love of the Corps made an impression on me that struck with me throughout my career…
Pfc. Harry Nyegaard USMCR
(Sept. 14, 1944) -- Marine Pfc. Harry Nyegaard, 19, of Main Street, was reported killed June 19 on the isalnd of Tinian. Nyegaard enlisted in December 1942, and went overseas with a field communications unit. He was a veteran of Saipan, Kwajalein and Namur Roi, all in the South Pacific. Nyegaard graduated from Belleville High School in 1942.
Posthumously Awarded the Silver Star for Heroism
(Oct. 18, 1945) -- Pfc. Harry Nyegaard was killed in Saipan on June 19, 1944, while laying a communications wire between a battalion command post and a company in the field. Navy Secretary James Forrestal personally signed the citation for Nyegaard's Silver Star. Nyegaard had already received a Purple Heart and a copy of the Presidential Unit Citation in which the commanding general of the 4th Marine Division gave recognition to the young Marine. Pfc. Nyegaard enlisted at age 17.
Despite this, I am still of the opinion the reserves changed. The 1960’s, 70’s and Viet Nam, unfortunately, gave a bad name and image to the reserves and the Guard. Let’s face it, we all know why folks signed up for the guard and the reserves during this period; to avoid going to Viet Nam. Although some Guard and reserve units did deploy to Viet Nam, they did not ever reach the number and/or reputation of the reserve forces in WWII. Even those reserve personnel that did deploy usually filled billets that did not generally put them in harms way and to be frank, the regulars liked it that way. The reserves were not as up to par on a lot of things that the regulars handled as routine both in the officer and enlisted departments. Additionally, some of the reservist who volunteered for active duty during this time frame had personal agendas. In some cases the active time and exposure was for political purposes and if they managed to get a medal or two that was even better. The "decorated" war hero image helped in campaigns. Does that sound familiar? I served with a few officers that were in the Marines Corps for exactly that reason. They needed the service time; it would look good on their resume when they got into politics.
Although the war in and Iraq and Afghanistan are drawing more and more reserves into supporting operational commitments, their image as a organization still has a ways to go to recover from the image created in the 60' and 70's and return to that of the reserves units that fought in WWII and the Korean War.
Over time the reserves became and have remained less competitive than the regular Marine Corps or regular forces in general; it is much easier to get promoted. Officers that have failed promotion to captain in the regular Marine Corps and had to get out of the Regular Marine Corps usually had the option of going into the reserves. Over the years, some have ended up as reserve “Colonels” and have been called up to active duty. This is the case for some today with the war on terrorism and with certain military occupational specialties that are short and have to be filled by reserves. To some it seems strange that an officer that can fail promotion in the regulars and had to leave, can than be promoted to a far higher rank in the reserves, but it’s true.
Now, to the average citizen there is no distinction between a reserve rank and a regular rank, but I can assure them that outside of the normal courtesy to the rank, there is a BIG difference in the eyes of a regular 24/7 Marine. No political correctness here, facts are the facts. Duh-R usually sends a signal…it starts to tell you something, especially where the SNCO’s and officers are concerned. It is here, unfortunatley, you may find individuals that used other Marines, the Marine Corps and its image and history to promote themselves. It is here you may find the type of individual that relished living the myth, strutting about the community with a Marine image earned by others, because they couldn’t or didn't want to handle the fulltime reality. It is here you are likely to find the type that gets by distorting the truth, because they are perceived as honorable and upright hard charging Marines. This is the type that more often than not has the attitude “that vet thing doesn’t cut it with me” because maybe they really couldn’t cut it at one time.
The vast majority of Marines and veterans do not condone this type of attitude, behavior or poor leadership. Marines and Veterans pride themselves on the fact that Honor is their Loyalty and they are Always Faithful! And I am of the opinion, there should be no difference whether Reserve or Regular are concerned. But unfortunately there has been; there is.
Now, this isn’t just about the current situation and one of our “own COLONELs". This is about all those that have forgotten what it means to be a Marine, a veteran and positive role model whether it be regular or reserve. This is only one of the more recent and glaring examples. There have been other Marines and vets that have done the same sort of thing or worse. And when you look close, unfortunately, there is usually an R in their title more often than not. As this example unfortunately depicts:
ARMY SILVER STAR MEDAL
LIEUTENANT COMMANDER LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON,
UNITED STATES NAVAL RESERVE
"For gallantry in action in the vicinity of Port Moresby and Salamaua, New Guinea on June 9, 1942. While on a mission of obtaining information in the Southwest Pacific area, Lieutenant Commander Johnson, in order to obtain personal knowledge of combat conditions, volunteered as an observer on a hazardous aerial combat mission over hostile positions in New Guinea. As our planes neared the target area they were intercepted by eight hostile fighters. When, at this time, the plane in which Lieutenant Commander Johnson was an observer, developed mechanical trouble and was forced to turn back alone, presenting a favorable target to the enemy fighters, he evidenced marked coolness in spite of the hazards involved. His gallant action enabled him to obtain and return with valuable information."
Different time, different congressman and different service, but the agenda, well you decide.
This is not something new (Read Stolen Valor by BG Burkett) and it will continue by those who think they can get away with it, until we finally put a stop to it and start demanding some accountability. For the majority of us regular or reserve Marines and or Vets we did what we did and we survived, because we knew we “could count on each other”. We were and we remain WARRIORS who believed in that WARRIOR ETHOS built on “trust” and “loyalty”. It remains steadfast and is engrained in the majority of veterans even today. But strange as it is, there are some vets that just don’t get or never got it. Their attitudes and behavior as vets are harmful to the veteran’s image. They detract from positive veterans initiatives and adversely affect the support we so badly need in a society were less than 10% of us are vets.
This is even more critical when one of those vets has a position of influence and can effect change for vets or vet initiatives. It seems that even here they lack the moral courage to stand up for their own veteran’s community and more than often than not they end up just regurgitating the BS of those that appointed them. They become mindless and valueless individuals subjugated to a political party or agenda. It is more of the “that vet thing doesn’t cut it with them”.
Look within your own communities and see if these attitudes and the lack of moral courage to stand up for vets exist. Is there an understanding in the difference between those who wear the uniform and those who wore the uniform when it comes to benefits and care? Do you have veterans in positions that have the ability to influence vet initiatives, but just end up kowtowing to the power elite for their own self-serving reasons? If not you are lucky, but unfortunately that is not the case in many communities, mine included.
It’s time we start holding veterans with this attitude, veterans in positions of influence and leadership and any veterans that represent us in any capacity accountable. It’s time we start demanding they put our values, principles and standards of conduct ahead of their self–serving interests, political correctness and agendas.
Marines take care of Marines and Vets need to take care of Vets. There should be no tolerance for anything less Regular, Reserve or Guard. Being a veteran came with a price, representing veterans comes with a price…Faith, Trust, Confidence and ACCOUNTABILTY!
"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." Thomas Jefferson