10.24.2010

About Russ and his "commitment" to Veterans

Sen. Feingold's latest campaign ad about veterans hits a little close to home for me. While Sen. Feingold does have a good record for supporting vet programs and funding for VA hospitals, it is only half the story.

I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but support for our veterans does not begin when our troops come home, it begins at the moment one of our young men or women enlists and swears an oath to defend our nation and our Constitution. It includes support during training, peacetime and while at war. On that last count, Sen. Feingold fails.

I do not fault him for opposing the war in Iraq. Men and women of good conscience can disagree about that and I respect the Senator's position, but his actions after our boots hit the ground are - to this veteran - indefensible. Sen. Feingold was vocal in his opposition to the war and repeatedly voted against funding for the war, opposed the surge and even went so far as to attempt to defund combat operations in Iraq.

In a way, I admire Sen. Feingold's commitment to pacifism. However, if he wants to claim a commitment to honoring combat veterans, he must begin before they return home. The defense supplemental bills he voted against provided body armor and up-armor for vehicles that protected our soldiers in harm's way. The surge he so forcefully opposed brought relative peace and stability to a fledgling democracy in the heart of the Arab world.

I do not say these things to question Sen. Feingold's patriotism or love for our nation. I have no doubt he believes he is right on matters of defense and foreign policy. From my standpoint though, I cannot dismiss or excuse his votes or his positions. I thank him for his support after we came home, but I can't help but wonder, where was that commitment when we needed it most?