LETTER: The silent majority

Carrie Hollister

To the editor:

I live in a town with one of the proudest of military histories. I live here because I am a proud military wife and educator of soldiers, veterans and their family members. I lived through 23 years of my husband’s active service, moving 12 times with our daughters, and making it through three long deployments.

In my career, I see the strength of military families. Yet I also witness the lasting hardships that have built up over the past few years with so many killed in action, those returning who live every day with severe PTSD and families that must endure and navigate these conditions.

One aspect that guided me through my years as a military spouse was trust in leadership. Politics aside, I believed that my husband was serving leaders with integrity and representing the best of this nation. I have since lost this trust with the current president and his administration. I can’t imagine the uncertainty, mistrust and disappointment that active duty members of our military and their families must be experiencing, knowing that their lives are on the line for government leaders who would rather protect their personal reputations and political party than protect the nation’s volunteer force.

For example, much was made of President Trump’s water drinking and ramp walking during and after his commencement speech at West Point. Unfortunately, these apparent failings of the commander in chief papered over the real issue, that Trump was willing to use newly graduated and commissioned officers as props. These young men and women all swore an oath to defend their country whatever the cost. They didn’t sign up to risk their lives to hear a rambling political stump speech.

This class of West Point graduates and those from the USAF, Navy and Marines may well face dangers that are inconceivable to most of us, especially President Trump. The commander in chief, after calling them babies, told the Joint Chiefs that he “… wouldn’t want to go to war …” with them. Mr. Trump is happy to organize a military parade, but he does not have our backs.

The West Point sham was the first time that I recognize I have no faith in the executive branch of my country, and the damage may be irreparable. While we watch the news cycle of the president’s tantrums and political blunders, as well as the blind loyalty of his party brethren, there are thousands of military members quietly doing their jobs to protect us. Their families are watching too.

I wonder, if instead of standing by, what would happen if we stood up. I don’t mean standing up for another candidate or political party. I mean standing up for the men and women who stand to protect us each day. If we spent as much time and energy advocating for our military members and their families with our public officials as we do shaking our heads at President Trump, my guess is that we could earn the pride and respect back from those amazing West Point graduates and all members of our military.