Given the pomp and circumstance of Obama's speech at a war college one would expect to hear specifics, not warmed over politics. Many of the soldiers heading out on their second, third and fourth deployment deserve better. Among them is Pfc. "O", a soldier trained at Fort Carson now on his first tour in Iraq.
I was acquainted briefly with the soldier and he had a lot of questions that needed answers. He had the charisma of a leader, a bright intellect and a keen sense of his priorities. Well read and mature he had management potential. Anywhere else companies would be fighting to hire him.
He was headed for something better in life when his father became ill and died. He stayed behind in a small Texas town working in dead-end jobs paying minimum wages to take care of his mother. When the recession hit, he traded in his franchise uniform for one given to him by the U.S. Army, a federal government employer who needs men and women to fight in two foreign wars. It paid better than no work.
The private recognized that Army health benefits were better than none at all and knew that he was capable of getting a college education when he got out so he signed up for the Army perks and took the oath. Today he is in Iraq with full knowledge that he is fighting a rich man's war in a place where the odds are better for getting what you want than staying poor in Texas.
Savvy and strong, he will rise through the ranks, God willing. But he has grave doubts before he deploys. He has researched health care in Europe and Canada and compares the benefits. He wants to know why free health care is not available in a country that put a man on the moon four decades ago.
He has doubts that there will be quality jobs available when he returns; he has serious doubts the recession will be solved. Will the government still have enough money to send him to school? Will Medicare and Social Security be dismantled while he is away? What happens to him if he is injured or maimed?
He recently moved his mother to Colorado Springs before deploying. We share worries about our mothers and the planned cutbacks to senior centers, cultural centers, parks and first responders in Colorado Springs. Our mothers don't need this kind of aggravation.
Frustrated, Pfc. "O" admits to having serious doubts about his city, his country and his mission. He sighs, "But I took an oath."
Today in Iraq Pfc. "O" may still have questions. Obama's speech wouldn't have answered any of them.