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U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

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Comments, questions, opinions...this is your chance to speak out regarding anything and everything reported on U.S. Farm Report. Viewer feedback updated regularly.

Viewers Respond to John's Comments on Military Service

Jun 16, 2014

***Editor’s Note:  The Farm Report Mailbag last weekend generated quite a bit of response.  Below are John’s comments followed by viewer feedback…

FARM REPORT MAILBAG:   Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag.  My memorial commentary prompted objections from Paul who had questions about my service.  "John is probably one of the National Guard troops who thought they could be a parasite and not have to ever serve in a war zone."  Paul, I read your email carefully and think i understand your strong opposition to my opinions.  I think your characterization of the National Gard is inaccurate and unfair, even though that was not my branch.  From 1970 to 1975 i served as a nuclear submarine engineering officer aboard the USS Seahorse SSN 669 out of Charleston, South Carolina. My somewhat unglamorous job was to keep the screw turning and the lights burning. Other than several hundred feet of very cold Atlantic water over my head most of my tour i was not in harm's way, so to speak. I was away from home two nights out of three, however, because the navy was struggling to find sub engineers.  It is pointless in my opinion to rank different tours of duty on a scale of danger or daring. They also serve who sit and wait. And while I served without distinction perhaps, I also served without dishonor. My experiences profoundly shaped my attitudes toward national defense, and I always keep in mind that thoughtless reactions to every global development can mean sending some other young person from a farm into a threatening world. Given the ambiguous results of our last half-century of military interventions, I think we should pick our battles more carefully.

VIEWER COMMENT #1:  I just heard you tell about your military service and, in my opinion, you DID serve with distinction.  My experience was similar.  My years were 1955 to 1959 in "the other part of the Navy" and I did whatever I was told to do.  When my son was 17 and played American Legion baseball, the coach asked if I would be a member so I could sit on the bench with the team.  It was then I found that the American Legion thought my four years were "unsuitable" and I was denied membership.  I am sure you did what was asked of you and that you did it well.  Even though I am not a farmer, I find we agree on many points you comment on.  Keep up the good work and I will do my best to keep listening.  Charlie Shirkey - Bowling Green, OH

VIEWER COMMENT #2:  I am constantly impressed with his editorial skills….a very thoughtful man who unlike most seems to search out information instead of affirmation.  As a minor player in ag production I very much appreciate what you have say from the budget solutions to military service.  And by the way John, thank you so much for your service!  Bob Garner

VIEWER COMMENT #3:  I just want to thank you for your military service AND your comments about how this nation should "pick its battles" more carefully.  I could not agree with you more.  My husband served 22 years in the USAF and is a veteran of the 1st Gulf War and was still active duty for the 2nd, but saw little time in the sandbox that rotation.  When he left for Desert Shield/Storm the 1st week of January 1991, I wondered "what war" would be in store for my then 4 year old son.  When 9-11 happened, I knew we'd end up back in Iraq too.  And here Iraq looks as if it will implode again.  We have accomplished nothing.  I'm sorry.  I am not writing to whine or push my political beliefs on anyone.  I am frustrated and wanted to thank you for saying what I hope someone in DC will hear.  When my children were in high school in the early 2000's, the district they were zoned into did not allow JROTC.  So I became involved in Civil Air Patrol partly to help provide that option to students who were interested.  Since then, the adult portion of our unit is made up of several retired and some active duty senior members.  Our active duty officer senior member is the most outspoken adult refusing to allow recruiters to speak to the cadets because he feels they lie.  Therefore WE answer the Cadets questions about military service.  At this point, I believe our country is (regardless of who is in the White House) making such bad decisions about the use of this nation's military, that I no longer encourage military service, but instead encourage local law enforcement or EMS service.  If a Cadet wants to fly, I encourage commitment into the Coast Guard (not that Coasties don't ever get shipped out to war zones too). The point I am making is that I believe we are putting our nations’ best and brightest in harms way for no return on the risk.  I can't think of ANYTHING in Afghanistan worth ONE American life.  That population is not interested in the same values as us, and as soon as we leave, whatever progress we did make, will also leave.  We can't stay there forever.  So what are we doing besides wasting time, money, and lives?   I wish it were different, but I just don't think it is. Anyway, thank you for speaking your mind.  Bethany Cox

Hey - meant to also pose the question:  Can you imagine where we'd be if we'd taken ALL the money we've spent on oil wars and put it toward alternative energy?  Ha!!  My husband posed that question to me just after the Gulf War alone...what a waste. 

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