In the Washington Post last week, Matthew Bogdanos, a Marine Corps reservist, shared a wonderful essay on the divide between the civilian and military worlds. He writes eloquently about how military veterans (and their families) no longer have the sort of shared cultural and generational experiences like the World War II and even Vietnam generations did. He reminds us:
As the British general Sir William Butler warned a century ago, “A nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.”
Bogdanos goes on to say:
Without greater understanding between the military and civilian worlds or, better, a return to a synthesis of the two, we risk a future without all of us working toward the same ends — whatever society decides those ends should be. And we risk misusing military force because of misunderstandings about what it can and can’t do or, once used, its being prematurely withdrawn because of unrealistic expectations. The solution is an educated citizenry that understands its soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines — understands that we are you.
One of the founders of Blue Star Families, Kathy Roth-Douquet, has a similar message in her book AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service – and How It Hurts Our Country, written with Frank Schaefer. Our civilian leadership is truly hindered by its lack of experience with the military and its failure to understand military service.
The message that Bogdanos and Roth-Douquet and Schaeffer preach is the whole point behind Blue Star Families. Our goal is to support military families by bridging that gap. If you haven’t been to our new website to join and to take our military families survey, please do so.