After more than seven and a half years on the job, the commander-in-chief finally decided to check in with his military. Demoralized and depleted, the president’s troops had plenty to say about the last eight years — not many of them flattering. The townhall-style meeting, held at Fort Lee, Virginia, was surprisingly frank, as active-duty service members unloaded on the administration after two terms of social experimentation, antiquated equipment, abysmal health care, and political correctness.
A lot of service members took issue with Obama’s refusal — not just to destroy radical Islam, but label it. One mom whose son was killed in Iraq in 2007 demanded to know “Why do you still refuse to use the term ‘Islamic terrorism?'” Obama replied that he didn’t want to compare the terrorists to “the billion Muslims… who are peaceful, who are responsible, who in this country are our fellow troops.” It didn’t get any easier after that, as questioners pushed him on the disgraceful treatment of our veterans, calling it “inexcusable” for the VA. The widow a veteran who died after waiting a year for a colonoscopy didn’t pull any punches when she asked, “So when are we going to actually start holding these contracted doctors and the VA employees accountable? …[I]t’s a difference between life and death. And families like mine, they’re tired of waiting. And the only true change that’s come since we began talking was that I am now a widow. And my family, we will never be the same.”
The president tried to explain that the issue was being taken care of, a claim which rings hollow years after the problem was first discovered. “We were using old systems where somebody would answer the phone, they’d write down, try to schedule it, then they’d hand it off to somebody who then would input it into some old, rickety computer … So we’re having to rebuild information systems, intake systems.” The aggressive questioning continued from a female Marine, who objects to sending women into combat after studies showed that women were more injury prone and units performed worse as a result. “Why were these tangible, negative consequences disregarded?” Obama quickly dismissed political correctness as the reason, then insisted, “I want to make sure our starting assumption is that if you can do the job, you should be able to get the job.”
For the military, the townhall was a unique opportunity to get some things off their chests. The real shame, however, is that the president didn’t start listening to his troops sooner. If there’s one thing we can all agree on: the next president is inheriting a huge mess on military readiness and national defense. FRC’s Lt. General Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) spent 36 years in the military and says, “Morale is lower than I have ever seen it due to the social experiments and the assault on religious liberty. Good people are leaving and quality young men and women are discouraged from entering the services as they see what our armed forces have become and how they would be treated.” For these reasons, he writes, “I have very grave concerns about Hillary Clinton as the next commander-in-chief.”
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