I see no need to delve into the history of the draft, but also realize there is little chance it will be reactivated to induct young men and possibly young women into the Military.
That being said, I have been largely indifferent to the nomination of Don Benton or that he never served in the Military himself in any capacity. Although if approved he would be the first ever to head the department without Military Service, it really made no difference to me in large part due to the unlikelihood our youth would once again be conscripted.
I have supported Don over the years and have defended him, some of the time when his actions might have seemed indefensible.
That has now changed due solely to a flippant comment Don made to the Reflector in an article, Benton’s role in D.C. changes.
The article ends with;
“Although he himself never served, Benton brought up that he comes from a military family, with his father being a naval officer who helped prepare for the invasion of Normandy in World War II and both of his older brothers being veterans themselves.”
“‘I don’t think you will find anyone who understands the commitment and the sacrifice more than I do,’ Benton said.”I have called out many, both Democrat and Republican for relying on relative’s Military Service to bolster their public image. That is their relative’s service, their valor, their sacrifices, not yours.
What they did is not yours to claim.
What you did is what matters.
I also must take great exception to Don’s claim of “I don’t think you will find anyone who understands the commitment and the sacrifice more than I do.”
Don is too young to have been caught up in the draft when it was active, but he will never know the sinking feeling you get when starting off life as a young man to receive the letter “ordering” you to report for “immediate induction” into the Armed Services. Especially when the country is deeply embroiled in an unpopular war with riots and demonstrations going on against it.
Since he never felt it necessary to enlist, he will never know what Basic Training is like.
He will never know what being rocked out of your bunk in the wee hours of morning to the sound of incoming mortar rounds or a sapper attack is like.
He will never know what standing armed guard and hearing unknown noises behind you is like.
He has no idea of what forming a close friendship with a buddy, only to see him cut down is like.
He has no clue what coming home to a country you love only to be spat upon or otherwise castigated for serving in the Army is like.
He has no understanding what jumping at sudden, loud noises or being wary of strangers coming too close to you for the rest of your life is like.
No Don, you have not earned the right to make such a claim of understanding what our sacrifices were.
It is knowledge that cannot be learned from accounts made by your relatives, reading books or watching movies. It can only be gained by first-hand experience.
So no Don, you are dead wrong. There are hundreds of thousands of us, millions of us that did don the uniform. That did serve and fully realize what our commitment and sacrifice is and was.
You are not with us and whether you support us or not, are not entitled to make such a claim.
As many of us Vietnam Veterans have said time and again, “If you didn’t go, you wouldn’t know.”