My twitter feed is clogged with various military commands and bases reminding me to celebrate the Month of the Military Child this April. “Take Time to Honor Military Kids’ Service,” says the National Guard in a typical posting.
“Heroes for the Future” is the theme of today’s Army public affairs STAND-TO! Edition. “Approximately two million children have experienced deployment of one or both parents, since 2010. These children bravely endured the effects of over ten years of conflict,” it says.
I guess no one wants to call them military brats anymore.
I’m torn though, because the Defense Video Imagery and Distribution System is also telling me to recognize the sacrifices of the dogs of war.
“In a combat environment largely devoid of the safety and comforts of home, the energetic Labrador retrievers are neither pets nor expendable objects. They’re faithful friends and saviors of Marines,” DVIDS writes, in a profile of Marines and their dogs in combat.
“The Four-Legged Heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan,” tweets Fast Company, in its military working dog pin-up spread. “Ideal for the battlefield,” says Maria Goodavage, author of the new book Soldier Dogs.
Ideal yes, and revered, and enlisted. In 2008, the Defense Department opened the $13 million Holland Military Working Dog Hospital in Texas to deal with the growth of the canine population. The hospital cares for the 900 dogs that are at Lackland AFB, where handlers are trained.
I know that the convention of blogging is cleverness and even meanness, but that is not my intent here. And certainly combining kids, dogs, and military families and service in one blog posting will undoubtedly rile someone.
But I have some serious unresolved questions and thoughts:
– Is there some relationship between dogs and drones? Unmanned everything rule the skies of Afghanistan and Pakistan, hunting for bad guys, even delivering supplies to those very Marines marooned on their remote island. Where are we really going in warfare?
– In a week where the head of the General Services Administration is made to resign for wasting taxpayer dollars ($800,000) at a lavish Las Vegas conference, what about the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent/wasted on military social media, outreach that really serves no purpose other than public mobilization? Isn’t there something bizarre about the taxpayer paying for propaganda to keep it paying taxes?
– Is the military public affairs apparatus tugging a little too hard on public heartstrings, so much so that it’s more like a leash being pulled? After all, we are at war and people are dying and being injured. What does it all say about humanity and the prospects for creating peace?