Thanks to Ms Dobie for writing this article. I am profoundly moved by it. I am also very angry about some of the descriptions regarding the lack of compassion displayed by some of the unit leaders towards these Marines who have been damaged so badly by their experiences in this unrelenting war.
To be frank, I am greatly conflicted about the portrayal of elements of the Marine Corps as being so heartless towards these young men who have asked for help. I am a retired Marine officer who served mostly in the infantry, although I experienced only a little bit of combat in the First Gulf War. I still work for the Marine Corps here on Okinawa. The leadership that I see on display here in this senior Marine Corps command is a very compassionate leadership that requires all unit leaders to aggressively get their Marines and Sailors who have come back from combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan to attend the post-deployment, post-combat counseling. I believe that this leadership here, and from the commandant down through the leadership chain, wants to take care of all of these Marines and sailors and get their problems addressed.
Yet, as I said, I am profoundly moved and disturbed by this comprehensive article detailing the failures of some Marine Corps leadership to correctly take care of their own, even when that young man is exhibiting "unprofessional" behavior that is antithetical to the core values of the USMC. As Ms Dobie recognizes, the Marine Corps is deeply engrained with a warrior ethos. It is this "cognitive dissidence" between adherence to this first-to-fight Marine warrior culture and the responsibility and obligation that Marines take care of their own, no matter what the aggravations may be, that is probably at the root of my disturbed reaction to this very well-written article. I love the Marine Corps, yet I can recognize when the Marine Corps is not doing what it should do in regards to truly "taking care of its own." The Marine Corps demands a total commitment from all of its Marines to give their all, no matter how difficult or deadly the circumstances are. Semper fidelis should be the guiding principle applied to all Marines from their Marine Corps in return, no matter how inconvenient it may be for that Marine Corps command to take time and resources to apply to those young warriors in an effort to help heal their hurts.
All I can conclude at this point is that Marines serve and continue to serve the nation, and they will continue to redeploy again and again into this meat-grinder of a war, because that is what they are ordered to do by the current administration. Your article is an excellent one that helps to reveal the full costs of committing these young Americans to this disastrous war. I am afraid that the overwhelming majority of my countrymen and -women have become numb to this extended war, and I believe that they choose to ignore it as much as they can. I want this Iraq war to be ended now. It is not worth any of the costs that have been paid. The damage to the nation from this "pre-emptive" war of choice forced on us by Bush, Cheney and their neo-con accomplices is only becoming visible, with a debt owed that is yet to be calculated. I can only hope that this upcoming election will be the catalyst for getting our young sons and daughters out of the hell-hole of Iraq. It appears that Afghanistan is getting worse as well, but that is, of course, another subject. I do intend to send a link to your article to my Congressional representatives. That is the least I can do. And I will most likely drink a large shot of bourbon tonight while I mourn for the individual Marines that you described in your article, and pray that they may be able to find some peace.
Kitanakagusuku, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa, Japan
Feb 2 2008 - 5:37am