How could you be so mean? I mean, that person is a veteran!

How could you be so mean? I mean, that person is a veteran!

A veteran is someone who once raised their right hand and promised to do whatever was required to defend the nation. Veterans on the whole are honorable people who deserve the thanks of the nation.

Since retiring in 1994, I have been active in many of the communities we have lived in with veteran’s organizations. We organized parades, dinners, fundraisers, support programs, and have donated to and supported food banks for veterans. We have volunteered at the VA and I have given many programs at the local VA to help entertain the residents. I have personally counseled countless veterans that were transitioning back into civilian life and as a manager in a number of organizations ensured that if a qualified veteran was competing for a job in one of the companies I worked for, that person was given every opportunity to compete for that job.

I am not bragging by any means. To be fair, I could have done more. I probably will. As an officer and past officer of the American Legion (45 years) and VFW (ten years), I like to think I at least do my fair share. The other four military organizations that I support do their fair of lobbying and actual support for our comrades. It is what you do when you want to be a good citizen that see the struggles and challenges veterans go through. You want to help good qualified people.

There is one qualifying point to that last statement. The people I helped had to be qualified or be at least as qualified as all of the candidates. Whether you believe it is fair or not, what I feel is unfair and unjust is hiring someone who has neither the temperament nor the ability to perform what the job requires. To hire someone to perform any job that was obviously beyond their skills would be unfair to the organization but more so, unfair to the veteran.

The truth of the matter is that veterans have many skills their civilian counterparts are not as adept at. Overcoming obstacles, dedication to the mission, problem solving under extreme duress are all examples of their strengths. Given the right training, many veterans have done amazing things with their civilian careers. They need to be given the opportunities that will allow them to make up for those lost four, six or more years they spent defending our nation.

But being a veteran is only one part of the picture. You must also be the most qualified for the job, specifically if the job is one that requires specific knowledge or skills that you do not possess. It is not fair in some ways, but it is a fact of life. It would be just as bad for me to hire you and watch you fail as it would be for me to hire any individual for any reason besides proven skills and abilities.

Right now, my local county elections are in progress. I thoughtfully reviewed the records and achievements of each of the contested races. In one race in particular, the top two contenders are both gathering support. After a lot of consideration, I chose to support the woman who was not a veteran. Not because I hate veterans. Anyone who would say that is lying to you. It is because the candidate I decided to support is the most qualified. She has over a decade of actual experience in the job she is seeking. She has proven accomplishments. She is actually serving as the Acting Director in the position she wants to fill full time.

Megan asked me for my vote. Although the other person knows who I am and runs in the same circles, she has not. I guess she assumed I would have to support her. I cannot. As a veteran, I want the most qualified person in a role that impacts my community. As a veteran, I want someone who has done everything they could to excel at their job for the community. No one gets a pass just because they are a veteran. To be honest, I have known a number of people who forgot what the core principles were that we learned in the service. Duty, Honor. Integrity.

In the end, I know that some have seen my nonsupport as some sort of betrayal.

I am sorry you feel that way. If you can’t look at my overall record of supporting veterans and understand why I am doing what I am, that is on you.  I find it interesting that many of the voices I have heard about objecting to my decision have been coming from people who never served in any capacity. I find it interesting that people think I am now part of some “swamp” because I will not comply with what they think is right. I would only say that there is more than one swamp in this world. And creatures who crawl out at night to attack actual veterans who take a principled stand are nothing more than swamp dwellers of a different kind.

I wish all candidates the best in the upcoming primaries. I will end the same way I always do:

May the best person win.

Always remember: You only have one superpower; You Vote.

Make it count.

Bob

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