It seems the concept of “supporting the troops” has been kicked around so much as to lose all meaning.
So what does it mean? Surely, a lot of the well-intentioned letters, emails, and care packages qualify as supporting our troops, right? I suppose they do, but to find out for sure we would need to ask the troops themselves. Our perception may not be the troops' reality.
Thus, if we want to do something for our troops … and I take the many people at face value who say that they do … then we need to consider what they really want. Put another way, if we are to support the troops, we need to do more than simply feel like we are doing so.
The point here is not to denigrate or challenge any particular tangible means one uses to support or assist our troops in harm’s way. The point is simply to challenge the notion that we can ourselves define what matters to our troops and what constitutes meaningful support.
We should consider what is most important to our troops if our objective is truly to support them. And to the troops, supporting their objective -- their mission -- is paramount.
Matt Friedeman recounts how a recently-wounded Marine simply identified as Rick called his radio show in Mississippi. While recovering overseas, the Marine absorbed some of the MSM’s take on the war in Iraq:
"But the whole time I was [there, in recovery] we watched the news to see what's going on. And we saw the protests, and we saw what the media was saying about what's going on, and we were worried about what we were actually going to face when we came home. We didn't know what to expect, to be honest with you. From the news media we were seeing, the whole country was basically telling us we're a bunch of jerks.Let's be frank. The incessant negativism about Iraq that has dominated the MSM and has been the Democrats' mantra can very tangibly hurt troop morale and ultimately troop performance. There’s a reason why Zarqawi quotes Ted Kennedy’s garbage about Iraq being Viet Nam.
"I thank God that the troops that are there don't see the news coverage. I thank God every day, because there'd be ten times the number getting killed, just because it would so un-motivate [sic] them.”
Here's the punch line: The most important thing for our troops is to know that we are pulling for them, both to come home alive and also to have success against the enemy. The work they are about is hard enough without being second-guessed and criticized. And the troops don’t particularly appreciate criticisms purportedly directed up the chain-of-command or questions as to why they are doing what they are doing, either.
So, if you really want to help, then find ways to communicate to as many people who will listen that you are fully in support of what the troops are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan … and that you love the troops and you hope that they are wreaking havoc on the bad guys. I know some of you don’t want to hear this, but it is true. If you want to be on the side of the troops, one must not criticize their mission … their work … once it is underway. Once the political process has worked and troops are committed, be quiet. You have the right to criticize as an American, of course. But I likewise have the right to tell you that you are making our troops’ jobs harder, and that I will hold you accountable for such behavior.
When Rick, the wounded Marine mentioned above in Matt Friedeman’s column, returned to the States, he and his comrades were overwhelmed by a spontaneous greeting in the airport. Here is how he described it:
"[E]very one of us just started crying like babies. Everybody in the terminal -- I kid you not, at least two to three hundred people -- just started clapping, spontaneously. To me, it was so much worth what we were doing, to realize that people over here actually get what we were doing. We weren't over there because it's fun. We're over there doing a job.”So, if you support our troops, support their mission. And tell others you do.