Monday, May 24, 2010

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

I have been meaning to weigh in the on the illustrious Attorney General from the state of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, and his comments about his military service 'in' Vietnam versus 'during' Vietnam.

I find it a bit suspect that he would describe his service as 'in Vietnam'. While it is possible that he 'misspoke' (as he puts it), I find it troubling that he would have referred to his service in this way multiple times without making an effort to correct his language.

I graduated from the basic airborne course in 1996. I am very proud of that fact given my significant, and highly irrational, fear of heights. While at Fort Benning, I bought a t-shirt with big airborne wings on the back. Once in a while, while wearing it, a salty old veteran will ask if I was 'airborne'. I am quick to tell him (or her if a woman ever asks) that I just went to airborne school and that I was never in an airborne unit. You see, there is a big difference between serving in an airborne unit and being airborne qualified. The same can be said for being a 'ranger' and being a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School. These subtle, yet distinct, differences mean the world of difference to those that have served in these elite units.

The same can be said for service in different theaters of war. I served during 'Afghanistan', but I surely know that I never served in Afghanistan. A statement like that is false, self-serving and cheapens the service of those who have fought and died fighting the Taliban.

As a proud veteran of the Iraq conflict, I would be offended if someone claimed service for something that I or the hundreds of thousands of others accomplished while soaking up the sun in Baghdad (or other vacation destination).

I don't think I can give Blumenthal a pass on his characterization of his service. While it may not seem like a big deal, I think it speaks volumes about his character that we would let the belief that he served remain without trying to correct it.

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