WASHINGTON, June 30, 2013 — Be sure to nod your head or tip your hat to the next active duty serviceman or servicewoman you meet.
Today’s American fighting force is all-volunteer, and performs at a high level of dedication, professionalism and excellence. Typical of their resumes:
- Nearly 100 percent of our active duty personnel have at least a GED certificate or high school diploma. A significant number of active duty military have an Associates degree or higher.
- Enlisted specialty professions are occupations that have an equal civilian counterpart: culinary specialist, computer programmer, carpenter, mechanic, musician, financial accounting, weather forecasting, police/security, nuclear engineering, and much, much more. They also perform specialized technical and tactical support for missions and national defense support exclusive to military service.
- Commissioned officers possess four year degrees, and many have postgraduate (masters and doctoral) degrees. The average senior officer has the credentials that usually equal or surpass those of a private sector corporate CEO.
Aside from their resumes, members of our armed forces meet standards and face challenges far beyond those most of us have to consider.
- Some servicemen and women are single parents, and had to identify a responsible relative to serve as custodian or guardian over their child/children. Even when single parents are currently stationed in the U.S., they must have a guardian identified because of the possibility of their being ordered to deploy on short notice.
- Active duty servicepersons are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) 24/7/365. They are required, upon order, to serve in a capacity that may endanger their lives or put them in harm’s way. Their general conduct and personal interactions usually foster team spirit and promote good order and discipline that is not often found to that same degree in civilian organizations.
- Physical fitness standards are mandated. They must maintain physical readiness and meet a minimum standard for bodyfat and physical stamina/endurance. If they fail to meet such standards, their (enlisted) evaluation or (officer) fitness report will be downgraded, and they may not receive recommendation for advancement or retention in the military.
Servicemembers of all ranks (officer and enlisted) serve with special forces, many of which are at the tip of the spear for vital military operations. We also have many other special units that perform ceremonial color guard, embassy duty, and much more. Their efforts, although noteworthy, are not well publicized to the general public.
The deaths of servicemembers are rarely covered outside of their home state. It is a tragedy that many in the American media will report on social dribble of Hollywood celebrities, and ignore the multitude of real life actions and missions of our deployed troops.
When servicemembers transfer to another duty station and assume duties and responsibilities for a new position (in the new command/unit), they have 89 days to become fully acclimated to the job. Once they have been on board for 90 days, they become the go-to person for that position, and in that capacity cannot blame their predecessor for anything or any condition that exists. (Why isn’t this axiom applicable all the way to the very top of the military food chain?)
Military members do not get paid overtime. While deployed, servicemembers may have to endure less than ideal conditions for habitability, comfort amenities, recreation or regular communications with friends and loved ones. Yet, even under these circumstances, our fighting forces continue to perform at a top level in every respect.
Our servicemen and servicewomen are routinely involved in disaster preparedness and disaster recovery efforts in affected communities across the country. When disaster strikes, our National Guard (and available active duty and reserve units) are called to the scene, and work tirelessly until their assigned recovery and cleanup efforts are done.
In combat, our troops bear the grief of seeing a fallen or severely wounded comrade on the battlefield. Yet, they have the resolve to remain focused on the mission at hand, and continue until the mission is accomplished.
When the military chain of command is properly utilized with conscientious, engaged leadership throughout, command/unit effectiveness is remarkable. In a well organized unit, the military chain of command is the most effective and efficient government organization serving our country. When such commands are replicated amongst our services (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy), it is no wonder that the American military is considered to be the most highly motivated, best trained and operationally capable fighting force in the world.
But let us not forget that our outstanding military is, figuratively speaking, a large digital mosaic, with individual pixels of excellence that are known as our active duty military men and women. So to those of you who are still actively defending freedom and liberty, as well as those who have served honorably and with distinction, we proudly proclaim: “Well done!”
Bill Randall served on active duty from Aug 74 – Jan 02, is a retired Command Master Chief (E9), and a graduate of the Senior Enlisted Academy (Newport, RI, 1995: Class 67, Blue).
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