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Veteran's Organization or Veteran's Service Officer
Thirty-seven years ago, almost to the day I received my Honorable Discharge ending a three-year Army enlistment in which I volunteered to serve in Vietnam, a World War II Navy veteran who witnessed the end of World War I, the Bonus Marches, the creation of the Veterans Administration, WW2 and the Vietnam War in which he ultimately became a casualty of [See Footnote #1], looked around the country in 1971 and saw complete disarray among our Nation's veterans organizations. He saw a dwindling number of military veterans serving in the House and Senate, and he saw a swelling anti-military generation of young Americans acting very much like the pacifist young Germans of pre-Nazidom who failed to realize that their demand for demilitarization opened the door for Fascism and dictatorship.
This veteran's name was Thomas Kane Tully [See Footnote #2]. Most Americans remember him as Tom Tully, a brilliant and convincing actor who portrayed strong characters in films such as "The Caine Mutiny", "Soldier of Fortune", "Lady in the Lake", "Destination Tokyo", "Northern Pursuit", and countless television appearances. But over and beyond being an actor Tom was a military veteran. His professional life was acting but his passion was improving the lives of America's military veterans.
In 1971 Tom created a veteran's umbrella committee intended to group together and coordinate the agenda's of all of our Nation's veteran's organizations, both Congressionally Chartered and independent. The name of this committee was called "BRAVO" for "Brotherhood Rally of All Veteran's Organizations".
For the next eleven years of his life Tom devoted every dime he owned and every breath he took to uniting America's veterans organization into a solid mass that would re-fill the Halls of Congress with military veterans and give the Veteran's Administration the power it needed, by way of hiring and employing more veterans than non-veterans, and to ensure that our Nation's veterans never again suffered as the men who returned from World War I.
Tom's untimely death in 1982 took the wind out of BRAVO's sails. BRAVO continued to survive well into the 1990's but it never achieved the ultimate goals Tom sought. BRAVO no longer exists... and the vacuum left in BRAVO's vacancy has yet to be filled.
What Tom and millions of veterans wanted and needed is still needed. What is lacking to achieve Tom's goal, and the needs of the twenty million American veterans who have lost more benefits and honors in recent years due to the lack of military veterans in both the White House and Congress, is a new leader.
The American veteran organization family is a broken family with an absentee father. Today's veteran organizations compete with each other more than work with each other. Over ninety percent of our Nation's veterans don't belong to any veteran's organizations due to a variety of reasons... all of which are the fault of politicized, racialized or personality-challenged veteran's organizations and not the individual veteran.
Despotic political hacks who either never served in our military or never served in a war zone have fractured the American veteran population over the past three decades solely for the purpose of eliminating military veteran influence in the halls of local and national government, the conduct of wars, and the ethics of military operations and leadership. By using political gimmicks, non-military hot-button issues, phony outrages and creating a false and misleading measuring stick for patriotism the political hacks and power seekers have pitted veteran against veteran to the point that there are now more veterans membering politically-oriented, mom-and-pop veterans associations than member the traditional, Congressionally Chartered veterans organizations that once wielded enormous influence and helped to chart America's military course on a constructive path and military victory during and after World War II up to the Vietnam era.
But over the years racism, elitism, regionalism and politics have been used by those who sought, and succeeded, to reduce the influence of America's veterans and eliminate the services provided by the Veterans Administration in order to further prevent veterans from providing influential leadership.
Sadly, far too many American veterans succumbed to the snake-oil salesmanship of the non-military dividers and "chicken-hawks".. Today our Nation's veterans have less respect, fewer real benefits, less political influence and far less credibility than their World War One great-grandparents who revolutionized the veteran movement and pioneered the greatest veteran revolution in human history. Today, sadly, too many American veterans judge a fellow veteran by his or her membership in a political Party rather than by his or her service in uniform.
Today we have several prominent American veterans seeking top-level jobs in the new Obama Administration. News reports say that Colin Powell, Al Gore, John Kerry, Larry Pressler, Bob Kerrey, John McCain, Chuck Hagel and others are formally jobless and available to follow in Tom Tully's footsteps by creating (or being appointed to lead) a new veteran's umbrella organization, sanctioned and funded by Congress, with the purpose and intent to unite all of our Nation's veterans and veteran's groups to employ more veterans in the VA, elect more veterans to Congress, participate advisorily in military decision-making issues, eliminate veteran homelessness and joblessness, enhance military recruiting, ensure academic achievement/completion, require discharging vets be immediately employed, vigorously prosecuting military fakers, and... overall... create an America where the honorably discharged military veteran is an achiever and not a loser.
A generation short of a Century ago, thousands of American veterans converged on our Nation's capitol to demand respect. Some veterans and their family members died to get that respect, but the outcome of the MacArthur-ordered atrocities against innocent veterans ending the Bonus March produced the Department of Veteran's Affairs, now known as the Veteran's Administration.
The 'hardware' (the VA) is in place. The VA exists. The mission now is to make that hardware work for, and not harm, our Nation's veterans.
American veterans need to put pettiness and ridiculousness aside... our Nation's veterans need to understand, accept and agree that just as personal politics, service branch affiliation, skin color and how we tie our shoes or put on our pants don't matter in a foxhole or in the midst of battle. What matters is whether or not we work together, united, to accomplish a mission, win wars, and achieve victory or justice.
The current, petty divisions among our Nation's veterans were created, by intent, by people who wanted our Nation's veterans to be divided.
American veterans need to take back the reigns of influence, draft a dynamic leader, re-organize under a united umbrella, resume control of their lives and destinies... as well as the destiny of our Nation... to serve as elder statesmen and women and beacons of a Guiding Light of worldwide Democracy.
The United States of America, formed and created by military veterans of the Revolutionary War, is the greatest human achievement of true and pure Democracy in the history of Mankind.
We American veterans have more than a responsibility to ourselves, we have a responsibility to fulfill the aspirations of countless millions who fought, suffered or died in countless human struggles over eons of human existence.
Our Nation, above all, possesses the power, will, determination and capability of guiding our entire world to a more prosperous, evolving and achieving future. But to make it happen our Nation needs those citizens among them who have endured the greatest and most supreme sacrifices and challenges -- that come only through military service -- to take the reigns and work together and collectively not to politicize but to produce.
Producing progress and victory is the goal of any military operation. American veterans need to look to our personal and National future as an "Operation Success" endeavor.
Hard times and bad times are caused by the wannabes, chicken-hawks and cowards who refused to serve. Good times and prosperity are made by those who served and those who honor those who served.
The future of our Nation and our World is up to us American veterans... whether we unite or continue to bicker over pettiness and silliness is up to us.
As people who live in the most powerful Nation on our planet we American veterans have the high responsibility to lead and guide our world toward a better human future... we American veterans must choose, each of us personally, to be supremely responsible for our high responsibility.
Tom Tully would demand nothing less of us...
-- Phill Coleman
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