Stan Spangle Sr.: Hagel knows the enlisted’s life

Mar. 14, 2013 @ 04:48 PM

As you already know, sequestration has everybody’s attention, especially in Washington. That makes this job harder to do. The “good” news is: The Veterans Affairs money has not and will not be cut — “yet.”
New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel found out who his friends were not during his Senate confirmation hearings. For members of The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), the confirmation of Hagel was a significant event because he became the first secretary of defense who was an “enlisted” combat veteran.
After being sworn in and later at the Pentagon, Secretary Hagel addressed an assembly of several hundred Pentagon workers and said to them, “I’ll be honest; I’ll be direct; and I’ll expect the same from you. I’ll never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do.” His entire address to the assembly can be read at: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119392
A group of Republican lawmakers, introduced a bill to prevent the DoD from establishing a Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM) for drone operators, that would rank higher than the Bronze Star or the Purple Heart. The Retired Enlisted Association’s opinion is — and I agree — “that the new DWM for operators of unmanned aerial vehicles should not rank above awards for ground combat troops.”
Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, R-Calif., a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, told the Marine Corps Times, “Those engaged in direct combat put their lives on the line, accepting great personal risk. There is nothing wrong with having an award that recognizes commendable action off the battlefield, but it’s absolutely necessary to ensure that combat valor awards are not diminished in any way.” TREA will keep us updated on this. TREA has pre-written letters that we can email or send to our congressional representatives. Go to:
http://www.capwiz.com/trea/issues/bills/
The DoD announced last week the expansion of its valor website and will now include the names of all individuals who were awarded Medals of Honor for actions prior to Sept. 11, 2001. This decision will recognize service members who were awarded the Medal of Honor during previous wars, campaigns and conflicts. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vee Penrod said, “Recognizing our men and women for their heroic actions is one of the most important things we can do as a department. Our service members have shown great courage and sacrifice on the battlefield throughout our nation’s history, and it is fitting that we honor their sacrifice and courage. Expanding this site is one small way to do that.”
The website — http://valor.defense.gov — lists the recipients of our most prestigious military awards for valor: the Medal of Honor, Service Crosses and Silver Star Medals. The site was designed to raise awareness of our heroic service members and to help deter those who falsely claim these honors.
All of you Marines out there need get out of your recliners the last Thursday of each month and join in Marines Helping Marines. The doors open at 1800, meeting starts at 1900.
Semper Fi and OoRah.
Pray for the families of the fallen.

Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.