By Rene Sotolongo:
President Obama‘s Defense Department team shouldn’t treat the military as “an experimental laboratory on social issues” in the final months of his administration, according to a top Republican lawmaker.
“We’re seeing a lot of stuff coming out of DoD in the waning months, and so that will present oversight challenges to us to understand the implications of what they put out and especially the long-term implications,” House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.
Politicians never look at the law of unintended consequences. They just ram a policy through without ever considering the damage that could be done. To them, it’s just politics and social agendas. When these policies are aimed directly at the military, it is our service members that pay the price.
What are the results of these policies? How does it affect “esprit de corps,” morale, retention and the health of our military?
According to the suicide rates, internal Department of Defense documents, the Military Times, and the World Affairs Journal, it’s an unmitigated disaster.
For example, it’s been way too easy for Obama and his administration to roll out policy after policy for an “all-inclusive” military. But when you don’t have the resources to handle the results of your policies, you create a situation where you have categorically set your military up for failure.
In fact, the results are staggering. The numbers speak for themselves. Suicide rates among our active duty military and veterans are simply unacceptable. In 2013 alone, one active duty member of our military committed suicide each and every day. For our veterans, it is even worse… twenty-two veterans committed suicide every day. And the numbers are only getting worse.
As a perfect illustration, let’s just look at the Obama administration’s policy on women in combat roles.
Study after study showed that when you intermix combat divisions, they are less combat effective. Women get hurt more often, are unable to perform many of the required tasks, and men are predisposed to come to a female’s aid when they are in imminent danger. And yet, despite countless studies and in-field analysis, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (an Obama Appointee) overruled the Marine Corps Commanders and allowed women to serve in combat.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that women can’t fight or that there is not a place for them in an asymmetrical battlefield. What I am saying is that intermixed combat teams suffer and that the women suffer the most, both during and after their terms of service.
So, before you start calling me a dinosaur or antiquated, or worse, sexist… know this: I am defending the rights of women in this article. What I am saying is that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs is woefully unprepared for the results of these social engineering (i.e. political) agendas.
To prove my point, consider this:
Neither the Department of Veterans Affairs nor the Department of Defense are equipped to handle the specific health issues that women veterans face. Hospitals and medical centers are too understaffed to deal with the volume of patients, especially in the areas of gynecology and obstetrics. In fact, one-third of the VA’s medical centers do not have a gynecologist on staff.
Even if they could fix their staffing issues, the VA and DoD still lack the facilities and specialty equipment needed. Research conducted by the VA shows a staggering lack of care. Almost one in five women veterans have delayed or gone without needed care in the prior 12 months.
Sexual abuse, harassment, and even rape are reaching epidemic proportions in the military. In fact, 20% of women enrolled in VA health care screen positive for MST (military sexual trauma.) Yet, over 31% of VA centers say they can’t provide adequate services. Oftentimes, the chain-of-command is part of the problem. Resultantly, neither active duty women service members nor veterans know who to turn to for help.
Post-9/11 women veterans have higher unemployment rates than male veterans and non-veteran women. Challenges in the labor market are exacerbated by medical and mental health concerns.
Women veterans are at least twice as likely to be homeless. Furthermore, women veterans are also more likely to be single parents. This makes life extraordinarily difficult.
And yet, the Department of Defense unveils a proposed regulation to provide hormone replacement therapy to transgender service members… AND their families. If we can’t even cope with the needs of the women in the military, how can we possibly cope with transgender needs?
Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said it best: the purpose of the military “is not to transform the culture by trying out some ideas that some people think would make us a different country and more diverse. The purpose is to protect America.”
The staggering reality is that all of this social engineering has destroyed morale in the military. And anyone who has been in the military will tell you that poor morale is one of (if not) the single biggest contributing factor to a unit’s willingness to fight.
As former Marine Pilot Carl Forsling so eloquently stated:
“[Our service members] see what appears to be an increasingly capricious and arbitrary force-shaping process.”
From the Army giving pink slips to soldiers in Afghanistan, the Marines kicking out sergeants at ten years of service, to the Air Force enticing airmen to apply for voluntary separation incentives and then revoking the offer, senior leadership has made its mission to please Congress at the expense of the rank and file.
The rest of the force — those not living within the protected bubble of the Washington, D.C. beltway — feel that it is being ridden hard and put back wet so that the generals and admirals can claim success before civilian leaders in Congress and the White House. That mission of pleasing elected officials is all about senior leaders so cowed by civilian authority that they will throw anyone under a bus.
Bottom Line: Senior Military leadership has not kept the faith… and our brave men and women of the military are paying a terrible price.
Rene C. Sotolongo is an OpsLens Contributor and a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer who served for over twenty years as an Information Systems official. Sotolongo also specialized in homeland security and counterterrorism.