Six years ago I was living on Coronado Island in San Diego. My girlfriend, and now wife Laura, had just moved out there so we could be closer together. I had finished my first Navy tour onboard a 100,000 horsepower guided-missile Destroyer and it looked like I would be able to stay in San Diego for another few years. Laura and I had built up a great group of friends, found a good church, and enjoyed living in sunny SoCal. Life was good.
And then the realities of being in the Navy hit me, and I was sent to my next ship in Ingleside, Texas instead. Ever heard of it? Didn’t think so. My old address does not show up on Google Maps because Google figured no one would actually want to live there. With a population of 10,000 and the only place to hang out being Chili’s, life would be a stark contrast from my San Diego days. The first weekend there I joined my new shipmates at a high school football game, because that was THE only cool thing to do on a Friday night in Ingleside.
The ship I joined was small, slow, old, and was tasked with finding underwater mines in the Persian Gulf. It was even made of wood, with our ship slogan was “224 Feet of Fighting Douglas Fir!” I can’t make this stuff up. I was the Damage Control Officer in charge of putting out fires…on a wooden ship. My duties also involved managing the ship’s toilet and waste system. My job was, quite literally, very crappy.
As I would soon learn, we also had significant leadership issues with the chain of command. After six months of failed readiness inspections our Captain was relieved of command due to his poor leadership. We then went on a six month deployment to Bahrain in the summer of 2009 (where the temperature once reached 127 degrees) and struggled to meet mission requirements. In fact, we accomplished less than 1% of our total assigned missions during the deployment.
To put it bluntly, everything in life was bad. My location, my job, my ship, my crew; everything was bad. I was burned out and simply did not want to be in the Navy anymore. But like every other service member and veteran, I took an oath to the Constitution and I had a duty to fulfill. No matter how bad things were I did my duty. Sailors relied on my leadership then, just as clients rely on me to do a good job now.
I fear that our country is losing its sense of duty. Love us or hate us, the rest of the world needs America. Russia’s invasion into Ukraine is shockingly similar to the carefully executed German invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939 that lead to World War II.1 The Russians can shoot an innocent civilian airliner out of the sky and kill 298 people, and we won’t even point a finger at Putin. The E.U. looks to the U.S. for guidance on dealing with Russia, while we tell them it’s their problem. Iraq has crumbled as a new form of terror far worse than Al-Qaeda and the Taliban has filled the void over the last six months. We don’t even have a strategy yet. Israel is once again under attack and is looking for allies, and we’ve kept completely silent. The Syrian government has killed over 200,000 of its own people in a brutal civil war.2 Again, nothing. The Ebola outbreak in Africa has now spread to four countries and is even crossing continents to Europe and the United States.3 But it seems so far away and is such an icky virus, so let’s just do the bare minimum to deal with it.
All of us have some degree of duty to fulfill. Your family and coworkers rely on you to perform to the best of your ability every day. It’s time America stepped up and fulfilled its duty again. Let’s at least do something.
The commentary expresses the views of the author and in no way represents the views of LPL Financial. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to prove specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.
1. * William H. McNeill (1989). Arnold J. Toynbee: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506335-X., chapter 8, online from ACLS E-Books 2. Updated Statistical Analysis of Documentation of Killings in the Syrian Arab Republic. Megan Price, Anita Gohdes, and Patrick Ball. August 2014. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/SY/HRDAGUpdatedReportAug2014.pdf 3. Centers for disease Control and prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/