I hope that you all had a blessed Thanksgiving and experienced why there is so much to be thankful for in this great country. In a few short weeks, Christmas will be here. The vast majority of us will have the opportunity to be with families and loved ones and to experience what Christmas is all about. I don’t have to remind you that we have many brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers and sons and daughters who will be away from us this eighteenth Christmas season since 9/11. Please pray that this will be the last time we have troops in harm’s way at Christmas.
I want to thank all of you who have contacted me about sending care packages to some of our troops in Afghanistan. If you sent something special to another service member as a result of my last column, thank you. I was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq for Christmas 2005 and I can assure you that being in a combat zone is a humbling experience. I have a grandson serving in the United States Army right now and his wife, also a soldier, will be spending this Christmas separated from him in Eastern Europe. Separation is a way of life in the military, so this year, I ask all of you to do what you can to ease that loneliness just a little bit. You will feel better and I can assure you that our troops will appreciate it. Some chapters have sent cards and others care packages. All can pray for their safety. You can also do something special for the families back home to show them how much we support their service man or woman.
A college professor once stated “There is no such thing as a free lunch! Someone somewhere is paying for it.” I have never forgotten that statement and I think that we all need to spend some time reflecting on what it means. There are some in this country that have been so brainwashed with the entitlement mantra that they think that by being able to breath air, they are entitled to free stuff. There is a big difference between free and free to you!
My generation and most of the ones that came before me understood that only through hard work and effort were things earned. The benefits earned by our service in the military are earned by your years of service, but they aren’t free. Taxpayers cover the cost and yes that means even those who serve are investing in the very benefits that we receive. That GI-Bill education or that VA disability payment is not free. The difference between the benefits earned by years of service in the military and many of the things being talked about by politician’s todays is a matter of investment and effort. Each of us has invested years of our lives, holidays away from our loved ones and numerous other inconveniences because we chose to serve to protect our freedoms. Be proud of that!
Now I know there are some of you that were drafted into service and that was not a choice that you would have made at the time, but in the end you served rather than run away and hide in Canada. You earned those benefits because you did serve. If you wore the uniform of any branch of the military, I salute you. Do not diminish that service because you were drafted rather than volunteering. You served and therefore earned every benefit those groups like NCOA and a host of other organizations fought hard to win for you.
As we approach the end of a turbulent year and look forward to a new and hopefully better year, remember this! Life is a matter of choices. Each of us can choose to be part of the solution or we can relegate ourselves to be a part of the problem. NCOA will align itself to be part of the solution. Will you help? If you have thoughts, I want to hear them. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can assure you that your leadership will take note.
Strength in Unity & Leadership By Example,
MCPO (SCW) Terry M. Haines
Chairman, International Board of Directors