03 July 2014

Desecrating the Uniform with Politics

The new generation of service members and veterans are increasingly involved in politics and protest.  Civil participation should be encouraged by all Americans, especially those who fight for the country, but using the uniform as a political tool is completely inappropriate.

Several incidents in particular come to mind. In October 2011, a Marine confronted NYPD officers during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in his utility jacket.  An Army reservist endorsed Ron Paul for President in his uniform in January of 2012.  At a 4/20 celebration in April 2014, a former Marine literally fastened himself to a cross imitating crucifixion in full uniform to protest his discharge and court martial.  In June, a senior drill instructor got in a heated confrontation with another retired Marine off base regarding Sgt. Bergdahl and the Taliban prisoner exchange.  He was charged with assault and he resigned from his post at Parris Island.

American military uniforms represent hundreds of years of tradition and excellence.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals come together as one cohesive unit in the same uniform, representing the home team.  Between all service members, there’s a wide array of political opinion.  There’s even debate on the proper wearing of the uniform, on and off base.  Clearly, most service members wear the uniform with pride and respect.

Political discussion should be encouraged, but doing it in uniform ties an individual’s opinion to a much larger entity.  Service members swear to defend the Constitution, not debate the intricacies of political battles, especially while they wear the uniform.  Is it appropriate for veterans or service members to wear the uniform at political events?  When would it be appropriate to wear the uniform for public events?

Weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military network.

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