The military simply does not care about its personnel'

In scores of other incidents, soldiers have been killed after being left out to dry by their officers.

The author is an Iraq war veteran and a member of March Forward!

During combat operations on Sept. 8, 2010, in eastern Afghanistan, members of Task Force Chosen (comprised of units from 10th Mountain Division out of Ft. Drum, NY and Marine units whose designations were not mentioned in the article) became heavily engaged by an overwhelming enemy force. Their repeated requests for air and artillery support were ignored by at least three company grade officers (only two of whom have received reprimands and whose names are currently confidential) resulting in five American and nine Afghan deaths. Among the five U.S. soldiers were two Marine Gunnery Sergeants, a 1st Lieutenant, a Corpsman, and an Army 1st Sergeant who died at Walter Reed as a result of a botched blood transfusion received in Afghanistan.

The following is a letter to the editor at the Army Times, in response to an article found in the Feb. 21. The article, entitled "2 Officers Reprimanded over Ganjgal Mistakes" details the Army's lack of interest during the investigation and lack of respect for the families of the slain.

The deaths of five U.S. troops and nine Afghans due to officer incompetence and negligence are a shining example of why myself and so many fellow combat soldiers have left and continue to leave the military. I say "shining" because here we have two Marine Gunnery Sergeants, an Army 1st Sergeant, a Hospitalman 3rd Class and a 1st Lieutenant (all men who have contributed plenty to the armed forces) and this is how the military repays that loyalty and steadfastness—by hanging them out to dry on the battlefield. To make matters worse, the military does nothing to console and inform their family members or to punish the officers in question until a congressman pressures them accordingly, at which point they reluctantly "reprimand" a mere two of them. Simply put, this is an outrage. When senior NCOs die because their commanders ignore repeated requests for fire support, those commanders, at the very least, ought to be relieved.

This all goes hand in hand with the "I've been treated like garbage" article buried way back on page 22 (without any mention on the front cover I might add.) It is quite obvious to many of us that the military simply does not care about its personnel and their families. Soldiers and Marines are seen as nothing more than weapon platforms who sometimes die and must be replaced. To make matters worse, when these boys and girls come home from war (traumatized, misunderstood, and down right exhausted) they are basically ignored and can not even find a job. The chart on page eight showing that young veterans have a jobless rate nearly twice as rampant as that of other young Americans is evidence of this betrayal on the part of both the public and the government. Until the military at least pretends to care about the men and women that fill its ranks, the rate of suicides among current service members and veterans will continue to sky rocket, as will preventable combat-related deaths on the battlefield.

Clifton Hicks
former Private 1st Class
C Troop, 1/1 Cavalry, 1AD
Baghdad 2003-2004

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