Dear Mr. Panetta,
How are you? I am fine. I see there is a problem in Afghanistan right now. A soldier killed 16 civilians, including children. This is a terrible tragedy, and I’m sure you feel bad about that. I heard on the news that the soldier may have been drinking, which will contribute to bad decisions. But the soldier was also supposed to be home in the USA after three tours in Iraq and instead got sent to Afghanistan. That’s got to be what really messed him up.
The soldiers in the US military have been getting poor treatment on all accounts since 2001. They had to buy their own body armor, National Guardsmen would be denied VA benefits if their injuries could be reclassified, psychological health care was minimal at best, and they were put into situations they could not find any good way out of. This soldier has his own sins to bear, but the US armed forces have their hand in this situation, and that needs to be fixed.
The US Army can keep soldiers in combat, indefinitely, with the way they’ve written their regulations. While the regulations make everything legal, they don’t make it all right. The treatment our front-line soldiers has received has been abysmal, both “over there” and at home. These are the men and women that put their lives at risk for their nation, but who have been hired out to do the dirty, wet work for the big oil companies. And, like any other worker for corporate America, when they’re used up, they’re tossed aside. That is not right.
I hold that the wars should not have happened in the first place: I don’t care to win converts to that point of view, as I’d rather have agreement on a more basic issue. That soldier, and thousands others like him, don’t belong in war zones after multiple combat tours. Fix the rules so that what is done is also the right thing.
Thanks for your time, Mr. Panetta. While I have your attention, could you also make sure that we don’t use the US Army for political purposes? I don’t see any partisan political gain to be worth even one life of an American soldier. I have friends over there. Don’t use them like pawns in a game in which only the richest of the rich will win.