From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why It Matters What They Do in Their Personal Lives


Dr Phil was on The View this morning, I came in for a soda from working on the wheelchair ramp to my front porch, when I heard him peddling the thought that powerful men have always been cheaters, and that we should all just separate the leadership of the man from the personal life of the man.  Just like everyone else, I have been so disappointed by the behavior of many in leadership of the United States Military.  That is not something that has just  come up for me because of how publicly recent wrong doing has been flaunted.  It has been an ongoing concern for me ever since my seventeen year old daughter came to me and wanted to join the Texas National Guard as a junior in high school, and then later joined the active duty component.  I will be the first to admit I am aware of all kinds of dishonorable behavior by many people in the military, and I never fail to attempt to do my part to keep the honor of the military by reporting wrong doing to the appropriate persons in the chain of command.  It isn't necessary to quote the West Point Code of Honor, everyone is right now, but the part that is so applicable here is "or tolerate those who do." 



Like I said, I have long been aware of the flaws and flawed leadership which exist in the Army .  That cannot however negate for me and many of those who serve, and their families as well, all that is positive, honorable, and rewarding in service in the United States Military.  I tell anyone who will listen all that I have personally found of extraordinary value and personal reward in the experience of  being an Army wife, daughter, and  mother.  My husband credits the United States Military as the method by which most of the blessings of his life have been delivered.  Many times when he is asked to speak, he tells of his childhood, and the challenges that he faced, and how his appointment to West Point provided the parenting that had been lacking, and values that have guided and given him direction for his entire life.  He took to heart all that he was taught at West Point, and has tried always as he has served to honor the code, believing it not only possible, but needful and necessary for having a satisfying and rewarding life in service.   He and I both still find those principles to be sacred beliefs and foundational to character and honorable living.  Honorable living is still something to be be prized, and I prize it more highly, and seek it more earnestly every day.  In my own efforts I realize and acknowledge how much more difficult achieving such a life is in our society and culture today.  I've heard the YOLO mantra from our young people, and when I encounter a person touting that belief of "you only live once," the first thing I do is agree with them, as I tell them that to me that means you only have one opportunity to do the right thing, and at the end of life, that single principle will transcend everything as they step out into their next existence. 

The military is full of men and women who sincerely strive to live by the Honor Code promoted at West Point, the current much maligned  institution from which David Patraeus and Paula Broadwell both graduated.  More than just a four year university, it is a physical place in our country where duty, honor, and country are upheld as sacred in nature.  Few organizations in our world remain optimistic that those things are achievable.  If these two graduates ever internalized what is taught at West Point, obviously it has lost its' significance.  That doesn't mean it has for everyone who endeavors to live humbly by those ideals.

One of the things that many making comments which amount to "who cares what they do in their private lives," do not realize is how the behavior of these people impacts those who remain committed to self-less service to our country.  For starters, it isn't as prestigious to be a West Point graduate as it was last week.  It isn't as well viewed to be an "Army wife" as it was last week either.  People tend to think more in terms of "pity" than admiration when they consider the wife of a Soldier now.  Young men and women who bought the program, now wonder did it ever mean anything, or was it just a method of recruiting used to lure them into sheep like behavior before the officers they serve under send them off to war.  General Patraeus gave orders which amounted to orders to kill people to Soldiers during the time he commanded.  To the Soldiers who carried out those orders in good faith, that they were coming from individuals of complete integrity, with our national security as their personal and corporate agenda, should have been a completely realistic expectation.  This week, they aren't sure of whether that was the case or simply power hungry leadership furthering their own egos and careers.   

The bad behavior of politicians isn't the same to the Soldier, as so many of those commenting declare is rampant anyway, thus making lack of moral convictions in a four star general fine and dandy.  Soldiers are taught to separate themselves from the politics of orders.  They are taught to obey without question, every order given them, and that duty, honor, and country are the reason they are to follow without question .  They have the right to expect that the persons giving those orders are of unquestionable honor in all areas of life.  It matters what they do in their personal lives, it critically matters.

It goes without saying that to Holly Patraeus, the father of Paula Broadwell, the children of both couples, and all those who have supported the military careers of both David Patraeus and Paula Broadwell, it matters what they do in their personal lives.  May God give grace and be merciful to those most wounded by such betrayal.  I am certain I know who has given the most, sacrificed while always believing in the Soldier she loved, and I pray especially for the healing of her own "war wounds."