Wednesday, January 1, 2014
LTR FROM GENERAL PETRAEUS TO VETERANS!!!
Thanks to my fellow veterans:
I remember the day I found out I got into West Point. My mom actually
showed up in the hallway of my high school and waited for me to get out of
class. She was bawling her eyes out and apologizing that she had opened up
admission letter. She wasn't crying because it had been her dream for me to
go there. She was crying because she knew how hard I'd worked to get in,
how much I wanted to attend, and how much I wanted to be an infantry
I was going to get that opportunity. That same day two of my teachers took
me aside and essentially told me The following:
“David, you're a smart guy. You don't have to join the military. You
should go to college, instead.”
I could easily write a theme defending WestPoint and the military as I did
that day, explaining that USMA is an elite institution, that separate from
that it is actually statistically much harder to enlist in the military
than it is to get admitted to college, that serving the nation is a
that all able-bodied men should at least consider for a host of reasons,
but I won't.
What I will say is that when a 16 year-old kid is being told that
attending West Point is going to be bad for his future then there is a
disconnect in America, and entirely too many Americans have no idea what
of burdens our military is bearing.
In World War II, 11.2% of the nation served in four (4) years. During the
Vietnam era, 4.3% served in twelve (12) years. Since 2001, only 0.45% of
our population has served in the Global War on Terror. These are
statistics. Overtime, fewer and fewer people have shouldered more and more
of the burden and it is only getting worse. Our troops were sent to war in
Iraq by a Congress consisting of 10% veterans with only one person having
a child in the military. Taxes did not increase to pay for the war. War
bonds were not sold. Gas was not regulated. In fact, the average citizen
asked to sacrifice nothing, and has sacrificed nothing unless they have
chosen to out of the goodness of their hearts. The only people who have
sacrificed are the veterans and their families. The volunteers. The people
swore an oath to defend this nation.
You stand there, deployment after deployment and fight on. You've lost
relationships, spent years of your lives in extreme conditions, years apart
from kids you'll never get back, and beaten your body in a way that even
professional athletes don't understand. Then you come home to a nation that
doesn't understand. They don't understand suffering.
They don't understand sacrifice. They don't understand why we fight for
them. They don't understand that bad people exist. They look at you like
you're a machine - like something is wrong with you. You are the misguided
- not them.
When you get out, you sit in the college classrooms with political science
teachers that discount your opinions on Iraq and Afghanistan because YOU
WERE THERE and can't understand the macro issues they gathered from books,
because of your bias. You watch TV shows where every vet has PTSD and the
violent strain at that. Your Congress is debating your benefits, your
retirement, and your pay, while they ask you to do more. But the amazing
about you is that you all know this. You know your country will never pay
what you've given up.
You know that the populace at large will never truly understand or
appreciate what you have done for them. Hell, you know that in some
will be thought as less than normal for having worn the uniform
Just that decision alone makes you part of an elite group. “Never in the
field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.”
-Winston Churchill- Thank you to the 11.2% and 4.3% who have served and
the 0.45% who continue to serve our Nation.
General David Petraeus West Point Class 1974
Dana Hussey, State Adjutant
Department of New Hampshire
Veterans of Foreign Wars