False displays of vets have no honor

False displays of vets have no honor

Photo credit/ Kelsey Van Horn

Paul Capoccia, Opinion Editor

On Nov. 4, United States Senators from Arizona John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans, revealed a report stating the Department of Defense spent as much as $6.8 million in taxpayer money to professional sports teams for what they call “taxpayer funded marketing gimmicks.” Events included parachute jumps, staged family reunions and exaggerated tributes to service, among other displays. 

 According to a Pentagon memo included in the senators’ report as reported by Mother Jones, Flake and McCain go on to say  “If the most compelling message about military service we can deliver to prospective recruits … is the promise of game tickets, gifts, and player appearance, we need to rethink our approach to how we are inspiring.”

 While advertisements to inspire young men and women to service are needed almost intuitively, to promote the military through staged, disingenuous acts is setting a poor standard indeed. Americans deserve genuine displays of national pride, not fake representations of what our military ought to stand for.

Serving in our military can unfortunately be a thankless job, especially with the riptides of dissatisfaction with our current deployments overseas by many Americans. But military recruitment ought to be rooted in American ideals, not in sporting events.

By setting a precedent to promote disingenuous appearances over legitimate, heartfelt ones is probably the most disconcerting part of the report. As Americans, we rely greatly on our military to protect us and to protect our world. Similarly to police officers these days, many are short-changed the respect they deserve.

In condoning and funding these kinds of displays is to suggest the American people need to see cheesy displays of fake affection to understand how difficult military deployment can be. The displays insinuate Americans cannot support our military for what they are doing, but rather how they end up feeling. And, probably most unfortunately, these events suggest the military’s individuals are not capable of recruiting in real ways.

Admittedly, the promise of game tickets or similar appearances likely was not a strong influence for anyone to join the military. Certainly some people saw through the guise, and, while it is disappointing, took them as mere commercials.

The NFL for its part has stated it will audit its funds and return any inappropriately spent by the Pentagon, something honorable in and of itself.

The military ought to eliminate these illegitimate displays; it has enough to honor without staging acts. Leave that for the men in football helmets paid to entertain, not for the men and women with helmets charged with defending our livelihoods.

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