A Message to the State Department: The War on Terror is not over
While some State Department officials may believe the "War on Terror" is over, few service members or their families feel the same. Our troops are continuously placed in grave danger fighting terrorists and insurgents. They are not going anywhere anytime soon and in fact, according to the Pentagon, the United States has committed to an additional ten years in Afghanistan.
I miss the days of seeing constant war footage on the television and seeing our men and women doing the incredible job they always do in fighting to defend this great nation. Those days served the American people as a constant reminder that we as a nation are at war. It seems like those days are long gone. I am reminded of the concept, "Nothing to see here folks, just move along."
And move along is what we are doing. We are moving along forgetting about our troops. We as a nation are becoming numb to their heroic commitments. Our media and political elites are side tracking the wars fought abroad socially conditioning the masses to move on with their lives. This in itself is a disservice to our troops.
The longest war in American history continues. Americans patiently wait for our troops to come home. We have been promised the withdrawal of our surge troops this summer but now we learn that the United States has pledged a ten year strategic military alliance with the Afghan government. Will we as citizens forget about our service members serving abroad? Have we forgotten about them already? Some have not, but many have.
While recently discussing with my friend and award winning actor Gary Graham the importance of supporting our troops, he asked that I deliver a message to anyone willing to listen.
"I'd like to remind my fellow Americans that even though it's no longer in the headlines every day, our troops are still involved in a war out there and our brave fighting men and women are still continually under fire in extremely rugged conditions. We all need to do whatever we can, constantly, to let them know they are not forgotten and that we stand united in support." - Gary Graham
His words are powerful and they are powerful because he speaks the truth. After serving abroad in numerous conflicts, to include Afghanistan, I understand the good times and the bad our men and women in uniform endure day in and day out. Yet, living back in the States now for some time, safe, far from the bombs and bullets, I feel many American's have simply moved on forgetting the fact that our nation remains at war. It is our patriotic duty to never forget these warriors and their families.
Not a day goes by where I neglect my thoughts about serving alongside the men and women I was privileged to serve with. Deep down, as I think of them, I am mixed with emotions. I am happy knowing I am home with my young family, safe from any harm. I am angry and saddened knowing America's greatest assets still fight without me. Part of me feels like I have betrayed them for no longer "shooting, moving and communicating" alongside them. I am not alone as I am sure the majority of veterans feel the same.
I no longer carry my military kit but I still carry the weight back here in the states. I do what many Americans do every day. I don't just think of our best and brightest, I do my best to assist them by donating to veteran non-profit groups, by sending out care packages, and I pray for their safe return.
The United States just committed to Afghanistan for another ten years. The majority of our surge troops are still scheduled to withdrawal this summer and soon, many additional troops will follow due to the 2014 timeline dictated by our nation's leaders. Yet many will stay behind serving in unique roles assisting the Afghans even though today, "the War on Terror has been declared as over." Will we forget about those who will remain behind? I hope not; but sadly, I feel many already have forgotten about them.
Knowing American headlines are no longer saturated with news from Afghanistan, this serves as a reminder to every American--the "War on Terror" is not over. Freedom is not free and citizen volunteers often pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Their strength lays in our prayers and our actions. What will you do for them today?
Kerry Patton, a combat service disabled veteran, is a senior analyst for WIKISTRAT and author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies and the children's book American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook or at www.kerry-patton.com.