Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Render: Getting shafted nothing personal, but not correct

The other day a friend of mine who served as an infantry platoon leader with the 1st Air Cavalry in Vietnam asked me what I thought about the president sending military personnel into West Africa where the Ebola virus is rampant.

After a short pause and without waiting for my reply he blurted, “If I was on active duty now, I wouldn’t go. I’d go AWOL before I went.”

I told him, “No you wouldn’t. You’d pack your trash and get on the airplane just like you did for ’Nam. And you’d go just because it was your duty.”

“OK,” he conceded. “I’d go, but that don’t make it right.”

It may not be right, but those designated to go will go. That’s the main reason why the U.S. military is one of the few remaining institutions the public trusts.

We are told by leadership that the troops being sent to Africa, and into harm’s way, will receive all the necessary equipment and be given all the necessary training to protect them from the deadly virus.

A question that keeps nagging at me is that if nurses and doctors with years of training rather than hours of training can come down with the disease, how can we expect our service members to be completely safe?

We are also told our soldiers and marines will not be put in a position that will cause them to interact with anyone who has Ebola. However, during 20 years of active service, I have never been deployed to an area where an injured child did not receive immediate attention and comfort from an enlisted serviceman regardless of that child’s physical appearance.

One of the things service members sent into West Africa will not be receiving when they get into the Ebola zone is combat pay or hostile fire pay. Since there will be no hostile fire taking place, the U.S. Congress will almost certainly not authorize combat pay. The duty will indeed be hazardous and the troops will complain about not getting their combat pay.

(Complain is the wrong verb, but this is a family newspaper.)

Company gunnery sergeants and company 1st sergeants will patiently explain to them that there is nothing personal in this. They aren’t shafting you, they’re shafting everybody. Nobody is going to get combat pay.

“And that don’t make it right either.”

Rube Render is the Curry County Republican chairman. Contact him at:

[email protected]