Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Army gets bad pr when they didn't have to

My father served a tour in Vietnam. Both my grandfathers fought in World War II. In high school I read Catch-22 and learned all I needed that the military was not for me. I respect those who serve our country in the armed forces. But being broken down into someone who can blindly follow orders at whatever the cost just isn't in my personality.

I am not going to write about policy but it amazes me for the brilliant people who serve in this country's armed forces, with what seems an unlimited budget -- how dumb the higher ups in the military seem to be. HBO's Generation Kill and a daily look at any major United States newspaper show just the latest examples. They sent our men into battle with the wrong equipment. They haven't taken care of the wounded at Walter Reed, hell they still mess around with giving the proper treatment to vets from Vietnam, Korea and beyond. Bureaucratic red tape harms our soldiers in the field and even years after. For all the pride I have in this country, I feel shame at how the military high levels and our government doesn't properly provide for the men who put their lives on the line.

So the whole case of Caleb Campbell seems insignificant on its whole. The Army told him he could enter the draft and play for a team that drafted him. The Lions did, signed him and he was told he could be a recruiter in the Detroit area. And then the day before camp, they changed policy and told him he couldn't play and to report for duty. And Campbell as he was trained to do did just that.

So is Campbell headed to Iraq, Afghanistan or a domestic base to provide an important service to his country. No he is headed back to be a grad assistant football coach for the Army.

I could care less if Campbell plays for the Lions or coaches football. The point to me is the Army took an insignificant thing and found a way to mess it up. They didn't have to give permission for Campbell to be drafted and then waited until the last moment to pull the rug. It appears small and petty and without thought or reason. It is bad p.r., they could have made him an graduate assistant coach months ago. And it isn't like it is without precedent, local boy Ben Miller worked out for the Browns for two years in training camp and then returned to the Air Force for his duty (where he also coached). When his two years were up, he tried out for the roster for real. But like I said the point isn't about playing football. It is about the grander scale of how can an organization filled with the brightest and best this country has to offer continue to be have people in positions of decision making who seem to have to no idea what they are doing.

Read Band of Brothers, Generations Kill and countless other books. Read more about Walter Reed and VA hospitals across the country. I could care less about Campbell. But this country needs to quit letting our soldiers suffer because of the chain of command is tied up by red tape, greed or indifference.