George Will, in response to a query about how he is able to write so prodigiously, will invariably say that the reason is the world irritates him at twice a week. Perhaps it’s my (relative) youth or my naivete, but I don’t get irritated nearly that often.
Today is an exception. I came across this story from Breitbart: "Hollywood Vows to Honor Veterans by Normalizing Them in Movies, TV."
On it’s face, it seems like there’s nothing wrong with this. My formative years were spent watching 80s television and movies, where both the big and small screens were dominated with portrayals of dysfunctional Vietnam veterans. From Rambo to Magnum P.I. to Hawkeye Pierce – who is actually driven insane by the end of MASH – it was hard to find a well adjusted veteran portrayed on screen. I remember being shocked to learn that my uncle had served two tours in Vietnam, because he seemed so, well,normal.
But something nagged at me about the Breitbart article so I decided to check out the "Got your 6" campaign referenced in the piece. I found this, from their About tab:
"The Got Your 6 campaign ensures that [veterans] return home to be seen as leaders and civic assets…Many Americans may not feel connected with military and veteran culture, nor do they know what steps to take to show their respect and appreciation of those who have served our country in uniform."
I have a sneaking suspicion that only in Hollywood or New York City (or perhaps on campus) would there be a need for a campaign like this.
On the way back home from my first tour in Iraq, our plane landed in Bangor, Maine. It was something like 6AM on a Sunday, and the flight crew let us all off to stretch our legs. I didn’t expect there to be a soul in the airport but was surprised almost to the point of tears to find about a hundred people, lined up on either side of the jetway, waiting there to greet us as we came home. They didn’t need a campaign to tell them to do that.
On mid-tour leave I once flew into Atlanta and was embarrassed by the reception as almost the entire terminal erupted in spontaneous applause as our planeload of soldiers walked through. I don’t think any of them had ever heard of Got Your 6.
In San Antonio I was so moved by the support of the local community that I wrote an Op-Ed for the San Antonio Express-News.
I understand my experiences are different than most. Born a military brat I’ve spent almost all of my life immersed in that culture. If they had a Got Your 6 campaign for actors or journalists I would probably benefit because I think most of them are nuts.
But here’s the thing, I think the premise behind Got Your 6 is born of a culture in which John Kerry’s 2006 statement (or gaffe, take your pick) rings true: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq."
I also suspect there’s a little bit of statism baked into the Got Your 6 cake. They’re partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative and the website talks about "building communities" and "continuing to serve."
If the organization does nothing else but reduce or eliminate the "dysfunctional veteran" Hollywood stereotype from the Vietnam era, then perhaps it is worth the effort. But at the same time there are plenty of people in flyover country who would look at this initiative and shake their head, wondering what all the fuss is about.
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