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I’ve been on the road for the past month promoting my new book, “The
Price of Honor.” Visited 10 military bases and 20 cities. Reckon I talked to
more than 20,000 military folks — active and retired — and a bunch of
civilians.

A book tour is worse than combat, except no one’s shooting bullets. The
tours are planned as marathons, as an extreme sport in which the authors
participating aren’t allowed sleep, food, or attention to other bodily
functions. I averaged four hours’ sleep nightly during the tour. It was all
go, go, go. But at least I got through it, and “The Price of Honor” made it
onto the Los Angeles Times Bestsellers list.

I’m convinced that without Army training, where shaving, showering and
out-of-there is a 10-minute drill, I’d never have survived.

On the plus side are the wonderful folks I met along the way. New friends
and a lot of old pals, stretching back to Italy, Korea, and Vietnam.

Most shared their concern about where our country is going, especially
the good people who make up the bottom rung of our armed forces. They’re
really feeling down these days. Many don’t have faith in their senior
leaders. They think most are totally out of touch with them and don’t have
the moral courage to sound off about the way things really are. Hundreds of
senior NCOs and junior officers with 10 to 15 years service said they
weren’t sticking around for their gold watches.

At Fort Bragg, N.C., the home of our Special Forces, the book-signing
line was heavy with women. Dozens of Army wives told me that during the
seven years of Clinton’s military misadventures, their men have been
constantly away on missions. “He comes home from Kuwait, kisses me, pats the
kids on the head, drops off his laundry, and is off to Kosovo,” explained
one frustrated wife. Almost the identical words were spoken by Air Force
wives in San Antonio and Navy and Marine wives in San Diego.

Doing too much with too little works only if the mission’s critical and
our nation’s imperiled. But not for Globo-Robo-Cop exercises in futility at
hot spots around the world, that in no way have anything to do with our
national security.

Sixty-five percent of the force is married, and I can tell you the
military wife is unhappy. When Mommy isn’t smiling, you can expect there’s a
lot of pressure coming down about changing jobs. Particularly when, outside
that base gate, things are booming and life’s easy compared with a
frantically over-committed military establishment whose medical services and
living quarters approach Third World standards.

The mandatory requirement to take Anthrax shots is another major morale
beater. Many warriors simply don’t trust this inoculation designed to
prevent mass casualties during a germ attack. Literally thousands are
choosing to walk rather than risk the suspected side effects.

The force-feeding of women into combat slots and the morphing of the
military into a feel-good organization where political correctness is more
important than combat effectiveness are also still taking their toll. A
senior sergeant at Fort Drum, N.Y., told me there were 142 pregnant soldiers
in his unit who couldn’t deploy. No wonder the Army’s headman recently
declared this division unfit to fight! Yet to stand tall in the military
against women on the front lines or in maternity wards remains an absolute
career killer.

Then there’s the January pay raise that the lower rankers say won’t ease
their pain. The fact that sergeants will be getting a mere 10 bucks more a
month while a four-star somehow merits an additional 10 grand a year isn’t
exactly winning hearts and minds. A wife at Fort Bliss, Texas, said, “The
brass only look after themselves.”

As we enjoy our bounty this Thanksgiving, hundreds of thousands of fine
men and women will be separated from their families at distant posts in grim
places like Korea, Kosovo, and Kuwait. We should make a point of giving
thanks to these extraordinary men and women by asking our legislators to dig
into their concerns. This is our absolute obligation to those whose service
and sacrifice allow us to continue enjoying the fruits of our land of
opportunity and the freedom too many of us take for granted.

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