…the wide wide world of sports is going on here? The IRS trolling for specific information on members of individual American Legion posts, requiring proof of the individual member’s veteran status as a way of pinning local American Legion posts to the wall, for some kind of purpose besides vulgar curiosity … hmm, that’s just what they did to various Tea Party organizations applying for certain exemptions. Asked for terribly specific information … my, who doesn’t think that isn’t going into some enormous database somewhere? Military veterans and retirees, in my humble opinion and experience tend to be rather more to the libertarian-conservative side of the political scale, for a number of reasons, chief of them being that we spent a certain number of years living a fairly conformist and regimented life … for which we (save those initially drafted before the advent of the all-volunteer force) freely volunteered. But the military experience doesn’t necessarily leave us with a lifetime fondness for living under the watchful eye of a higher authority and having every teeny little jot and tittle of personal lives and conduct scrutinized and counseled over… oh, no, my chickadees. It does not.
Quite often, it inculcates a dislike of all-encompassing chicken-sh*t authority exercised over the minutiae of daily living and a wide streak of defiant independence. Looking back on my service life, I suppose that for me the breaking point came when one of my troops – blessed with living in base housing at a base which shall be unnamed – was called at about mid-morning of an extremely busy work-day by a representative of the base housing office. He had inadvertently left his back door porch light on. Nothing would content the minions who ruled base accommodations but that he drop everything that he was doing, rush home, and turn off the back porch light. Apparently, the housing office felt that a 20-or-so watt bulb burning for another five hours was an insupportable burden. And yes – it is true that the power bill for such did come to the base housing office – but still. I took away from the experience that I would never want to live in base housing, ever. And if I chose to leave a damned 20 watt bulb burning, I would, as long as I was paying for it myself.
The other things that the military experience leaves indelibly imprinted on those who have served is a sense of responsibility, a sense of obligation which runs both ways – what you are obligated to society for, and what, if anything, society owes you – and of possibility. The military veteran’s interpretation of responsibility, obligation and possibility are all, I suspect, anathema to the current administration; I also suspect that their world-view inclines them to believe that getting something changed consists merely of making a great and stinking fuss about that which does not please them – rather like test animals working out the right way to pull the right lever. Eventually the powers that be grumble and randomly or purposefully disgorge a meager pellet of solution.
Veterans are used to getting things done and seeing things through. They are often accustomed to working together in coordinated fashion, able to see the possibilities and to work toward a viable solution, who bring solid experience in real-world planning and coping with unexpected contingencies … well, such people are not much inclined to waste time randomly pulling a lever, but are more interested in direct action … and not playing games of the sort that Thomas Wolfe described as ‘mau-mauing the flack-catchers.’ It must appear to the current administration that very effective organizations formed around veterans – the Legion and the VFW, not to mention any number of smaller and informal groups, or even just groups with a large veteran component, like local Tea Parties, or even the post-WWII Battle of Athens, where a number of veterans coordinated a political response to a viciously corrupt local machine. The DHS appears to consider military veterans as possible potential future terrorists, too – so, one might be forgiven for assuming that this current administration entertains lively fears regarding veterans as a group in opposition, or in at least, potential opposition.
(Crossposted at www.ncobrief.com)