President Obama introduced the nation Tuesday night to a young Army Ranger, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, who is recovering from grievous wounds he suffered when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan.
But then the president said something that took my breath away. He said SFC Remsburg was injured on his 10th tour of duty in the war zone.
Think about this for a moment. We are sending young men and women repeatedly into harm’s way. Is this how it’s supposed to be? Is this how a nation is supposed to buy into a conflict when we depend on so few of these brave warriors that we have to keep sending them back into battle?
Cory Remsburg suffered near-fatal wounds. As was quite evident at the State of the Union speech Tuesday, while he has come a long from where he was, he has a long and difficult road ahead.
A member of my own family, a young cousin, also is in the Army. She, too, has answered the call multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. She’s still serving our country and I’m so very proud of her.
Still, I cannot help but wonder whether we’re asking too much of these young Americans. I feel to compelled to bring up something that has next to zero political support, but I cannot get the image of SFC Remsburg out of my mind.
Mandatory military service would be one way to spread the burden to more young Americans, just as we did during all our wars until near the end of the Vietnam War. The draft became wildly unpopular back then mostly because of the deferments that were granted to those who had connections, leaving the war-zone experience to those who didn’t qualify for any of the deferments that were available.
The only way conscription could work — if hell were to freeze over and we would bring it back — would be to eliminate all deferments except for those who were physically unable to serve in the military.
Cory Remsburg came within an inch of his life of paying the ultimate price, as have so many others who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ten combat tours is far more than enough to ask any brave American warrior.