09/21/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain's POW Defense: Devaluing Our Service and His Own

The McCain campaign has spent weeks trying to portray Obama as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. Today, an interviewer at asked McCain how many homes he and his wife owned, to which he responded that he was not sure but would get someone from his staff to answer.

Contrary to what many will tell you, this does not make McCain out of touch with ordinary Americans, as many families today are in trouble with their banks and trying to figure out how many homes they have - zero or one.

Still, it's the campaign's defense we find deeply troubling:

"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison."

We obviously honor and respect McCain's service and the five-and-a-half years of horror that he went through at the hands of the North Vietnamese; but it's not an excuse for everything. He has already used it to explain away his infidelities in his first marriage. He's used it to defend his healthcare plan. He just the other day used it to deflect accusations of having skirted the rules of the Saddleback forum.

It's time for the Senator to stop cheapening the war experiences of thousands of vets and his fellow POWs, and his own as well, by stretching the boundaries of logic to make his POW status a wild-card rebuttal to all accusations or an answer to all difficult questions.

We are veterans who like John McCain, who served honorably, but and we continue to serve our country honorably by not using our military experiences as unjustifiable necessary shields or stepping stones. John McCain has faced and will continue to face many difficult questions that he does not have an answer for, and problems to which that he will provide no solutions to, in the 70 days between now and the election. When he uses his status as a veteran to deflect legitimate questions and concerns, it devalues not just his service to our country but ours as well.

So today, we ask not as Veterans for Obama, but as Veterans of America that Sen. McCain respect the service of his fellow POWs and combat veterans, and stop cheapening their service by hiding behind his own.

Lt. General Robert G. Gard Jr. (USA, Ret.) is the steering committee chairman of Vets for Obama. Visit their official site or join them on Facebook.