As the mother of a fallen Navy SEAL killed in action on August 6, 2011, I spend a lot of time talking to men and women who have served this nation since the towers fell on that fateful morning of September 11, 2001. Young adults who launched themselves into action with reckless abandon, believing in their hearts that their sacrifice—their commitment to the cause—would make an impact on American security.
As I stare into their beleaguered, weary faces and listen to stories of betrayal after betrayal, the same sentiment seems to linger at the close of each conversation, "We have no faith left in American leaders." Through tense jaw they say, "There is no plan. There has been no leadership for years." Or, "I took Tikrit once. Why should I do it again when no one plans to hold it?"
Those words are a stench to my soul because I know they are true.
What was gained has been lost. What was lost, decimated. Our war fighters' courage and conviction to "get the bad guys" was no match for politics and power.
No plan. No path to victory. Just disappointment upon disappointment until our brave war fighters finally concluded that America just doesn't care.
And now Gold Star families across this nation are forced to conclude—and somehow accept—that our sons and daughters are gone and nothing was gained in exchange for their sacrifice. They gave everything—all of their tomorrows. And their leaders turned their proverbial backs.
As of 2013, less than one half of one percent of Americans served this nation in the military. Fine tune that number to the actual men and women who did the "heavy lifting" of time in combat, and the percentage is even more staggering. For each man or woman engaged in battle, approximately six remained well behind the front lines, executing their service in strategic support roles.
So few now carry the weight of so many.
The average age of those who lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan is an unimaginable 26 years young. With their whole lives in front of them, they fearlessly followed the charge of war, but had no idea just how weak-willed and risk-averse their leaders would become.
Over 50,000 came home wounded, forever changed. Untold numbers of households bear the scars of grief and tragedy and now must ask themselves—as do I—"What was it all for?"
These heroes fought night after night in gruesome battles under restrictive, deadly Rules of Engagement, against enemies who wore no uniform and fought by no rules.
America's veterans have been put through hell. We need to rally for them, encircle them with the same level of integrity they gave us when they signed their name on that dotted line. They must know that America loves, appreciates, and honors them.
That's why I'm traveling with Concerned Veterans for America to 23 cities around the nation for the 2015 Defend Freedom Tour. If you love this nation and you love those who've served, please find a location near you and join the movement. You can learn more at www.defendfreedomtour.com.
Those of us who've given our very best in the name of freedom are begging you to fight—to defend what our sons and daughters gave themselves for. What has passed is the past. But the future is ours to challenge. We must hold up the arms of those too weak to stand on our behalf any longer. We must engage. We must re-form ourselves into a nation worthy of such sacrifice.
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