With a leader like Obama, I do not blame them.
For many of the war-weary troops who deployed to combat zones over and over again for 13 years, the end of an era of war in Iraq and Afghanistan is good news.
But for Marine Sgt. Zack Cantu and other service members, it’s a total morale killer. For many of them, particularly the young grunts and others in combat arms specialties, it’s the realization that they may never go into battle for their country and their comrades.
“Most people in [the Marine Corps] are in because of the wars,” said the 25-year-old Cantu, a former infantryman at Camp Pendleton, California. Cantu has retrained as a telephone system and computer repairer, a specialty more likely to survive as the service downsizes.
“Now, everyone’s coming to the realization, ‘It’s probably not going to happen for me,'” he said.
The wars against America’s enemies gave troops like Cantu a noble purpose. Their training had focus, their sacrifices were appreciated by a largely grateful nation. That gratitude was reflected from the White House to the citizen in the street, all of whom heaped praise upon military members for their service.
Congress lavished generous pay increases and expanded benefits on them while spending deeply to provide the gear and weapons they needed. Recruiters raced to grow the size of the services, and society vowed to never again undervalue the 1 percent of the country who stepped forward to keep them safe.
Today, however, that gratitude seems to be dwindling. The services have weathered several years of deep cuts in funding and tens of thousands of troops have been unceremoniously given the boot. Many still in uniform and seeking to retire from the military fear the same fate, as those cuts are not yet complete.
A Military Times survey of 2,300 active-duty troops found morale indicators on the decline in nearly every aspect of military life. Troops report significantly lower overall job satisfaction, diminished respect for their superiors, and a declining interest in re-enlistment now compared to just five years ago.