Supporting the Troops: Just What Exactly IS It?

  1. I've heard this discussion numerous times, both here on this BB as well as on radio talk shows. There is the stance that to say you oppose the war but support the troops is really an oxymoron; that the two belief systems cannot coexist meaningfully - and I emphasize the word meaningfully. There is then the rebuttal that states that one can oppose war AND support the troops, by wanting to use the troops and put them in harm's way only under the most severe of circumstances, and what better way to support the troops than by wanting them to come home?

    Some of my closest friends hold the latter view, and I struggle and struggle to find meaning in this. I struggle to understand. As a veteran's wife, I simply can't grasp it. And I know I'm not alone in this view. There are soldiers who feel that way, and others who are able to dismiss the protestors, still feel supported from them and continue on.

    But what exactly IS supporting the troops?

    I guess I equate it to this probably pathetic analogy of a football team. You have two teams playing a game, with the objective of both teams to win the game. You either want one or the other team to win, or, you oppose football altogether. If you oppose football altogether, or don't believe in the game, how can you support a team and root for them to win? Meaning, the objective of the US military is to win this war, ultimately. How can you oppose the war, yet support them in that endeavor?

    I guess those above questions are rhetorical, for my own benefit, but what I'd really like to know is - if you aren't rooting for the home team, if you aren't hoping for victory in this war, what do you consider support? What are you doing to support the troops?

    This thread is NOT meant to be an attack or meant to be CPR of Kevin's thread which stated an opinion. This thread is meant to gain and understanding for me and countless others who are unable to see the coexistance of opposition to the war, ie opposition to the sport of football, yet, rooting for the home team, ie rallying for the troops and supporting their endeavors to "win."
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   natsfanrn
    Susy--
    As a fellow wife of a soldier, I can assure you and others that neither my husband, nor any of his colleagues, feel at all "supported" by protestors. To be honest, I have to run and cover my daughter's ears when he sees them on TV, lest she pick up some new words I don't want in her vocabulary To maintain your football analogy, saying that you care so much about our troops that you want them home safe instead of doing their job is like telling a quarterback that he has to sit out the game because you don't want to risk him getting hurt...
  4. by   Q.
    One final comment before I let others add their thoughts.
    This question is obviously NOT posed to those anti-war protestors who are beligerent and a disturbance, who block city streets and block military bases and recruiting offices. This is meant for the average Joe or Jane America, who opposes this war but supports the troops.

    And to Kardut, my husband felt the same way about wanting the troops home. Anything else he would feel supported, but in wanting him to come home he felt UNsupported, simply because he WANTED to be there and WANTED to do his job. So I guess I can understand.
    Last edit by Susy K on Mar 26, '03
  5. by   curious
    And I feel like that will be answered differently by different people. It can be a complicated question. Here is how it is for me.

    I did not support the initiation of the war right now (I do think it was inevitable at some point however I wish that there was more international support- topic for another thread). Now that the war has been initiated, I support it ending as quickly as possible, at this point with the US accomplishing their aim of a regime change, since anything less would disintigrate into chaos.

    However, I am deeply concerned about how the administration got us to this point of war. As an American that is my right. I can disagree with the policy of an administration, and work to change that policy by writing my congressional representatives, organizing for change, and voting. I can also protest if I choose to do so. Our brave men and women in the armed forces need to follow the orders of their commander in chief, regardless of their political views, regardless of whether they think the war should go on right now, Democrat or Republican, Independent or Libertarian, white, black or green. That is the foundation that our country is built on, and I am proud of that foundation. I am also proud that this is a country where you can speak your mind and protest freely.

    So I think some people will be supporting the troops in different ways. If someone honestly believes that their protests will bring the troops home sooner, is that not a form of support, even if it is not directly viewed as such? I realize that there are some antiwar protesters out there just stirring things up, but I also know some intelligent articulate people who felt that it is their duty to do so. Just because some people do not view it as support does not mean it is not support.

    What am I doing? Although I have not participated in street protest marches, I did go to a candlelight vigil before the war started. I am writing my congressional representatives to tell them my views. I am writing letters and sending care packages to the troops there now, and providing emotional support to families who I know have a loved one there.

    I also feel strongly that support is more than just voicing support to those on the battlefield right now. It should be an ongoing process. I work at the Veterans Administration right now. I am also writing to advocate for better healthcare and services to our veterans and to their families. They have made great sacrifices for our country and our way of life. They deserve the best that we can give them.

    I hope that gives you a different perspective.

    Respectfully,
    curious
  6. by   ChainedChaosRN
    Supporting the troops to me:

    All my actions, thoughts, words and prayers would do nothing to reflect negatively on them or about them.
    You can't say you support the troops ... then turn around and say Americas actions are wrong.

    Dawn
  7. by   Stargazer
    Susy--to continue with your football analogy, I guess the best way I can express my own position is this: I don't believe the game should be taking place, I don't think our players should be on the field.

    However, since they ARE there, I actually do want them to win, because winning is the only thing that will get them off the field again. I hope the game is swift, I hope as few of our players get injured (/killed) or captured (sorry, can't think of a metaphoric equivalent there) as possible.

    Although I don't much care about members of the other team (Iraqi Republican Guard), and I definitely don't care whether the coach (Saddam) lives to be prosecuted at The Hague or dies, I do hope we can win without taking out too many innocent bystanders and spectators.

    I also hope that we can win without completely destroying the field, the bleachers, and the rest of the stadium, and that we stick around after the game long enough to help with the cleanup in a significant way. I'd also like if the hometown of the hosting team, and surrounding communities, weren't filled with such seething hatred after the game that they plan a similar event on our home turf.

    Whew. I'm pretty sure I tortured THAT metaphor enough.

    As far as supporting the troops, I'm doing so by telling my friends in the armed forces that I do so, by telling veterans that I talk to lately "thank you", by signing the online petition that was posted on another thread and sending other messages through groups like Operation Dear Abby, and by donating money and sending packages via Operation Shoebox, which I believe someone beat me to posting in another thread just yesterday or today.

    In short, although I am deeply cynical about the motivations for and events leading up to this war, I firmly and passionately believe that each and every one of the military personnel supporting it and fighting it are heroes; and I am admiring of and very grateful to them for putting their lives on the line for what they believe in.

    Does that help at all?
    Last edit by Stargazer on Mar 26, '03
  8. by   cindyln
    in my opinion you support the troops by supporting the war against terrorism and the president. It is one lump package. And as a wife of a Gulf War vetern I support the troops wholeheartly!
  9. by   Q.
    Originally posted by Stargazer

    Does that help at all?
    :kiss

    Yes. Honestly Star, I thought of you when I was thinking about this question today. You know I totally respect you and admire you, and that's probably what led to my utter confusion in the two stances: opposing war/supporting troops.

    But what makes it most meaningful to me is all that you are doing FOR the troops that you've mentioned. During Gulf War I, I wanted nothing more than for Aaron to come home. I followed the news daily (and it was NOTHING like it is now) and we didn't have email, and I searched for any bit of evidence that the war was ending. I wanted him home, no doubt.

    But I also wanted him to finish his job. And on top of loving him, I knew he wanted to be doing was he was doing and he believed in his cause. And so did I.

    So...I guess what I am trying to say is, in your words that you posted, you don't sound any different than I did in 1991. You want them home, but you want them to do what they need to do TO get home.

    THAT I can understand.
  10. by   SharonH, RN
    That's a good question. Everybody talks about supporting the troops but I wonder if anyone really knows how to do that. I fully remember when my hubby was in the first Gulf War which as you know had widespread support. Everybody talked about supporting The Troops. Everybody wore their flag lapel pins and talked about how "we" would be victorious in the war. I really resented that because "we" were not risking a husband over in a strange country and I felt that it was all well and good for everybody to talk about supporting a war in which they had no one who they risked losing. And for all the support that The Troops and Their Families supposedly had, I never felt more isolated. (I didn't stay on post while my husband was gone). Everybody supported the troops, waved their little flags and then went home to their loved ones who were safe. I was miserable and literally sick to my stomach with worry. Their so-called support meant nothing to me. Not ony that, hubby tells me that he never got any of the care packages that were sent to the troops. He said that in his experience, the people who got them were the people waaay in the back. He didn't feel any support and he wouldn't have cared if there were protests anyway because they had a job to do and that wouldn't have weakened them.


    It's funny that you should bring this up today. My dad visited today and he is a Vietnam war veteran(82nd Airborne Division!). I asked him if he felt demoralized by the lack of support at home back then. He said no, he was more demoralized by watching his 19 and 20-year old friends get killed! I asked him if he thought that lack of support caused them to lose the war. He said no, he thought that war was unwinnable to begin with. I then asked him what he thought of the treatment that some Vietnam vets received after the war. He said that first of all, all of the claims of veterans being spit on is way overblown and second of all, a lot of veterans came home on drugs and that had a lot to do with the way some of them were treated. He then shook his head and said that some of these people who support The Troops should come to the VA Hospital with him sometime. "Those people need help". That sounds like a practical suggestion to me.


    I still believe that for a lot of people telling them to support the troops is a tactic meant to silence dissent. JMNSHO.
  11. by   pickledpepperRN
    http://www.veteransforcommonsense.or...dsnotwords.htm

    There are veterans who have ideas:

    Deeds not Words
    Support Our Troops and Veterans Campaign
    from Veterans for Common Sense
    "As veterans, we can tell you what it means to receive letters from concerned Americans when you are far from home and uncertain about what tomorrow will bring. Regardless of the fact that many of us supported continued weapons inspections and question the need to go to war with Iraq, we are all in this together and we want our service members to come home safe." - "Support the Troops" Statement, Veterans for Common Sense
    In stark contrast to the words of "support" from the Congress and the Bush administration, Veterans for Common Sense calls for specific actions of support - Deeds not Words. We encourage veterans and true supporters of our troops support this important campaign which will include:
    * Intensified public and government advocacy in coordination with leading veterans organizations, including the National Gulf War Resource Center and the Disabled American Veterans, to support a fully-funded budget for veterans healthcare and "force health protection" to safeguard our troops.
    * VCS is committed to ensure the safe return of our troops and to protect their future and the healthcare needs of all of our veterans by stopping the budget cuts.
    * Direct contact to deployed service members with messages of support, peace and hope. VCS is doing so by highlighting opportunities, such as Operation Dear Abby, to send letters and care packages to deployed service members.
    * Continued education and public awareness of the role combat veterans must play in the national debate regarding the judicious use of military force.
    In stark contrast to the words of "support" from the Congress and the Bush administration, Veterans for Common Sense calls for specific actions of support - Deeds not Words. We encourage veterans and true supporters of our troops support this important campaign which will include:
    * Intensified public and government advocacy in coordination with leading veterans organizations, including the National Gulf War Resource Center and the Disabled American Veterans, to support a fully-funded budget for veterans healthcare and "force health protection" to safeguard our troops.
    * VCS is committed to ensure the safe return of our troops and to protect their future and the healthcare needs of all of our veterans by stopping the budget cuts.
    * Direct contact to deployed service members with messages of support, peace and hope. VCS is doing so by highlighting opportunities, such as Operation Dear Abby, to send letters and care packages to deployed service members.
    * Continued education and public awareness of the role combat veterans must play in the national debate regarding the judicious use of military force.
    http://www.DAV.org
    www.OperationDearAbby.net)
    http://www.usometrodc.org/care.html
    (www.AdoptaPlatoon.org)
    http://www.usometrodc.org/care.html
    http://www.interventionmag.com/cms/m...rticle&sid=141
    http://www.vaiw.org/vet/index.php
    Please send all checks and personal greetings for "Operation USO Care Package" to: USO-Operation USO Care Package
    C/O Pentagon Federal Credit Union
    P.O. Box 19221
    Alexandria, VA 22320-9998
    Due to the threat of anthrax following September 11, DoD suspended its practice of forwarding personal care packages and correspondence by the American public to "Any Service Member." In its place, USO created a care package program. Through sponsorship of an "Operation USO Care Package," an individual's personal greeting will be transcribed onto an official postcard and included in the care package going to a service member.
    MAKE YOUR DONATION NOW!
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    Travel Size Personal Items*
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  12. by   Mkue
    Team #1 - known to play very dirty, purposely injure players, go for the face masks, carry knives in their pads, try to paralyze the other side. Fear their coach.

    Team # 2 - a team of city and country kids, noble, honorable, some previous boy scouts, worked on family farms, well disciplined and have respect for their coach.

    I choose Team #2 because they are noble and honorable. At the same time I feel sad for Team #1 as they could possibly be more like Team #2 if not for their coach who they fear and feel they must do anything to win for him.

    Well that's my simple analogy.

  13. by   rncountry
    You know to me this is a very individual question. Some people will feel that the best way they can support troops is by wanting them home because they didn't and don't want the war. In talking to a young person who takes this view, he believes that the war is wrong to start with and he is supporting the troops by not wanting them to be in what he considers an illegal action. As much as I do not agree with this young man I do believe I can understand his reasoning.
    I also believe much has to do with your own experience, and to a large degree what each individual person takes from that experience. You can have two people who have the same experiences but they will see two different things out of it.
    When the Desert Storm broke, I too, had a husband in the military. He was in the Air Force, security police. In war actions this group secures base perimeters. They guard planes and munitions, and do this on bases both in wartime and in peace. At the time I was in nursing school and my husband was stationed 4 hours north of me. When he was restationed nearly 2 years earlier than had been anticipated I stayed where I was with the two children I had then ages 2 and 5 so I could continue my schooling since if I went where he was stationed I would have to go through a laddered program, LPN first and then RN as it was the only programs in the area.
    It was anticipated that war would happen but when it does and you have someone in the service it is still very difficult. The night war broke out I was doing an evening rotation in OB. My partner and I had just watched our first baby being born and had then headed down to the cafeteria. We were the only ones there and got something off the grill. As we sat there eating a housekeeper was sweeping up, he walked over to us and asked if we had heard what was going on in Kuwait, we said no and he told us bombing had started. I got instantly ill to my stomach and within minutes had thrown up what I had eaten. My partner and I went back to clinicals. My instructor was in the lounge and we walked in and the first thing she asked was if I was ok. I burst into tears. I tried to compose myself, but everytime I would just about get there I would start all over again. The instructor ended up calling my mom and having her come and get me. I can honestly say that was the only time while in nursing school that I felt an instructor gave a real damn about how something outside of school was affecting someone.
    My husband did not go to war, something he actually regretted. He felt that this was what he trained for and that he should have been there with buddies that went from another flight. I can say from my experience though Sharon, being off base during something like this is extremely difficult. Civilians who are not risking everything do not understand. Many of my schoolmates could not understand how difficult it was for me to focus on what I was doing, not knowing day to day if my husband was going or not. He could not leave the base and with my nursing school and all the demands it had I was able to get up to the base only once in that time that he was confined to base, which had actually happened 2 months prior to hostilities. It was a lonely experience. I think the thing that was helpful for me was my mom who had gone through many separations from my dad during his Navy career as he was gone every 6 months. Because of what he did in the service much of the time we did not actually know where my dad was. It was also my experience that Navy people stick together much tighter than did Air Force people which I am sure is because of the frequent separations that come with a Navy career vs. what most Air Force careers are like.
    I do think that one can oppose the war and support troops, it is a fine line to walk though. I also think some of the difference soldiers feel have to do with the way they are as a personality as much as it depends on the personality for any of us how we feel about things. For myself what I think bothers me the most is those that do nothing but constantly slam this country while opposing the war, as if there is nothing good here that is worth fighting for. To me that is not showing support for troops because they are fighting for the life we have, warts and all. There is a vast difference I believe, in not supporting policies the President has war and other things, but not in constantly slamming the country and it's history as a whole as if there is no good here at all. Patriotism is supporting your country, not your President. Do warts need examining? Of course, without that things do not change, but to only focus on those things without also acknowledging what is fanstastic about the country you live in does a grave disservice to me. It also does a grave disservice, in my mind, to bring up events in the past to prove what a evil country this is without also acknowledging that the actual democratic process that we have here has worked in many instances to correct those sins of the past. To me the troops are fighting for those democratic principles and by not acknowledging that those democratic prinicpals have stood us in good stead to actually change the sins of the past, that action does not support the troops. I hope that makes sense.
  14. by   Nurse Izzy
    To me, supporting the troops can definitely be done without supporting the war. I myself am still torn with regards to all the ins and outs of the war. I won't go into that - that's for another thread, but I do support the troops. To me, it's praying for them, listening when someone tells you that their son, daughter, brother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, etc., is over there - these people need to talk. Even more, it's not re-creating the scenes from the Vietnam era when the soldiers return home. It's tying a yellow ribbon to your mailbox or antenna, gathering up "quality of life items" to send over with your local community college or elementary school's USO drive - things like that. Just letting them know that you don't condemn or criticize them personally, regardless of whether you're for or against the war, the government, etc.

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