In the aftermath of the Fort Hood shootings, some commentaries have examined the damage to the U.S. Army from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few have spoken about the alleged shooter, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, as an extreme version of what can happen with an overstressed force.On this Veterans Day, it is appropriate to pause and honor these men and women who sacrifice so much to do what many of us can't even conceive of doing.
This picture of a traumatized military is misleading. Certainly, the Army and the other services are stressed by the demands of combat. But what's striking to me this Veterans Day is how healthy the military is, given all the weight it has been carrying for the country these past eight years.
Facing a new and disorienting kind of warfare, the military has learned and adapted. Rather than complain about their problems, soldiers have figured out ways to solve them.
In truth, the U.S. military may be the most resilient part of American society right now. The soldiers are clearly in better shape than the political class that sent them to war and the economic leadership that has mismanaged the economy. (I'd give the same high marks to young civilians who are serving and sacrificing in hard places -- the Peace Corps and medical volunteers I've met abroad and the teachers in tough inner-city schools.)
Through all its difficulties, the military has kept its stride. That sense of balance comes partly from the fact that soldiers are anchored to the American bedrock. This includes the stereotypical small towns in the South and Midwest that have military service in their DNA. But it also counts plenty of hardworking, upwardly mobile Hispanic and African American families in urban America that produce some of the best soldiers I know.
Whose honor and integrity would you put more faith in: any 10 randomly selected members of our armed services or any 10 members of our political class?
The question answers itself.