"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Monday 30 November 2015


From time to time,I've  felt inclined to comment on the difference between volunteers and conscripted military.  I  forebore from doing so as not to cause more hurt to families who lost sons and brothers and husbands in current conflicts. 

Families  comfort themselves with the same thought. "He was doing what he wanted to do"

A Week or so ago I watched an interview with a young soldier who affirmed that sentiment. He had already served a tour of duty and looked forward to a second. 

He said he signed on when he was seventeen and couldn't wait to get to the conflict and use the skills he had acquired in training. 

He made no reference to wife or children. 

This week-end a new charity was advertising on T.V.  Funds are being solicited for scholarships for  children who have lost fathers in the theatre of war 

It struck me as odd. First that the government would not provide for the children. 

Second, that the fathers of the children were not thinking about their children when they volunteered to put their lives at risk in the first place .

It's the difference between conscription and volunteering.

When a country is at war, every able-bodied man is compelled to do his part.Trying to escape active duty is a heinous crime in wartime. Absence from the family can be years. Life  cannot be picked up again as if nothing has intervened. It's never the same again. 

Post traumatic stress is not a new concept. It was always there. Just didn't have a fancy name. 

In the States,young women leave infants to go off and fight alongside men.

Something about that doesn't seem right either. 

If a person has a family , his/her first responsibility is to take care of their own. 

There's nothing noble about abandonment. 

Also, there's something odd about that fund-raising scheme for scholarships. 


Anonymous said...

Things must have changed. When I was at school in the Maritimes, one of my room-mates was from Quebec. She had
a scholarship provided by the government because her Dad had been killed in the line of duty. She had all her belongings
for the year in his old service trunk which just fit under the bed.

Anonymous said...

14:03 - You are correct.

Evelyn you cannot believe that every charity on TV or in your mailbox or at your door is a legitimate charity. I would hazard a guess that this was a US-based enterprise.

However, these funds may not cover everything. The salary of an active duty NCO in the Canadian Armed Forces is not huge. If this NCO never gets deployed and stays in until retirement, does the government have an obligation to provide post-secondary education to his children? No, he will have to what a lot of non-military people have to do.

Should children of non-military parents who die in the course of their work be given post secondary education? Why not?

Anonymous said...

Death in any line of duty is horrific for family and loved ones, but if that was a chosen profession then it should be up to the responsibility of that individual to prepare themselves and their loved ones if they should pass. The question is for military personnel...who the heck would insure them? As far as for the police, well... the odds of a roofer getting killed is much higher than a police officer. In fact the way things have been going, the odds of a roofer getting killed by police is still higher than a police officer getting killed on duty.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure that the military and organizations in an individual's town step in when there is the death
of a local serviceman or woman. Much like when a police officer is slain - funds are raised.
But 14:50 is correct - there are all sorts of con artists using the various media to raise funds. Like that whacky lady in the states who did not want to issue marriage licenses to gay couples - her lawyers raised an enormous amount which she will
likely never see.

Anonymous said...

It used to be called " Shell Shock ". I think the understanding of war and its horrors got smudged with programs like MASH
and Hogan's Heroes. The Vietnam War brought it back to the Americans for a short time. But they seemed to forget again
with the Bush years. I call those Wars of Choice. Now they are rattling away again.

Anonymous said...

The military provides an life insurance policy on individuals that are activated for active duty in a combat deployment. One of the last things you do is sign the document along with naming the beneficiary.

In an era when the entire military is volunteer, the reality of active duty combat is raised immediately upon talking to the recruiter. This even happens when you enlist in a reserve unit. You go into it with full knowledge that you may not come back. 16:31 is correct, you need to prepare yourself and your family for all eventualities.

There are regimental associations - usually made up of families and friends of the members of the regiments - that do rally around the families of lost members. The military is still very closed to non-military agencies and this is how they deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Shell Shock was the post-WWI name for the condition. During the war, those with "cowardice" as the condition was called were forced back to the front. Those that failed to do their duty were executed by firing squad. This was the British military discipline at work. 25 members of the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) were executed for cowardice or desertion. In 2006 the British Defence Minister pardoned 306 Commonwealth soldiers that were executed for these crimes. Two of the 25 Canadians were not pardoned as they also committed murder. A strange thing considering they were there to kill Germans.

Shell Shock is a mental condition. When the Government created the DVA hospitals (Westminster in London, Ont.; Sunnybrook in Toronto, etc.) they included a Psychiatric wing. In London, the PI (Psychiatric Institute) was a large building with fenced off balconies (to prevent patients from jumping).

As we progress through world wars, police actions and peace keeping deployments, the effects are the same. But now we call it PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

TV shows rarely show the reality. MASH was an attempt to comment about the Vietnam War - Korea and Vietnam were not the same. Hogan's Heroes was quite an amazing thing in that 2 of the prominent NAZI characters were played by Jews.

Despite the American jingoism, shows like Band of Brothers and movies like Saving Private Ryan give real insight to the lives of the ordinary infantryman. If you discount the "love scenes", Paul Gross' Passchendale was a realistic view of the battlefields in Flanders and Arras areas during WW1.