I was profoundly saddened – and angry – to read an article in the New York Post about Army dogs from Afghanistan that were ‘retrained’ (after a fashion) and then distributed to any civilian applicants who wanted them, irrespective of promises made to their former military handlers, many of whom wanted to adopt their former comrades in arms.  Their despair and frustration is painful to read.

It’s brought back many memories of broken promises made by the South African Defense Force to many of its soldiers at the end of the so-called Border War.  In particular, the former Portuguese colonial soldiers of 32 Battalion and the Bushman trackers of 31 Battalion SWATF were taken (grudgingly) to South Africa, rehoused in a desolate, remote part of the country, then dismissed from the Defense Force and left to their own devices.  They were expendable.  There was no sense of loyalty from the powers that be towards them . . . only from their former comrades in arms, who were angry and upset at how they had been treated.  We did what we could, but our pleas were ignored.  In the new political reality in South Africa, there was no time, place or compassion for them.

The USA has had similar problems.  The treatment of Vietnam veterans is well-known.  After the 9/11 attacks, servicemen were relatively well regarded for several years and received much public support;  but in more recent years, particularly as the Obama administration has sought to downplay military activities and reduce troops overseas, some of my friends in uniform report that they’re getting more and more negative reactions from left-wing and progressive sections of the population.  In particular, the delays in distributing, collecting and counting military votes during the last Presidential election were never properly investigated or dealt with, to the fury of those who’d been deprived of their democratic voice.  The Post article is merely the latest incident in a long line of what I might call “don’t-care-about-the-military” episodes.

Kipling put it well:

In times of war and not before,
God and the soldier we adore.
But in times of peace and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.



  1. Agree 100%

    I was surprised after 9-11 how positive the us became towards the military. ROTC invited back to many campuses surprised me.

    Water boarding, Code pink, the picture scandal in Iraq (abu graibe?), and the sense we are in two wars we have not won.

    I also see a larger culture clash between a military that is more culturally conservative and the progressive elite in the us. The amount of distrust of the military in Washington is huge. Another challenge is military families have become a small section of the population.

  2. would it be possible to make an internet site where soldiers can show pictures of their dogs and ask for their return from the people who have adopted them?

  3. Fire and police are getting similar treatment. I remember the days after 9/11, when firefighters were cheered. Just a few years later, the TEA party blamed firefighter pensions for the collapse of the economy, and began cutting pensions.
    What they forgot was in the Reagan years, the government had a problem retaining firefighters, who were leaving the profession for higher paying jobs in the private sector. To increase retention, the firemen were offered pension in lieu of higher pay. The idea worked, recruitment and retention improved. Twenty five years later, it came time to begin paying off the pensions that those people had earned, but since there was no longer a recruiting and retention problem, the powers that be went back on their word and began eliminating pensions.
    That was why I retired: it was face a large cut to my pension, or lock in the benefits I was owed by retiring and beginnning to collect it.

  4. It's more than a tragedy when the military who sacrifice so much are forgotten and mistreated.

    On one visit with Dad to the VA where he was normally shuffled and mistreated, we had to ask a lady about an appointment running late. Dad began with, "Ma'am, I hate to bother you but…" Before he had finished his request, the lady interrupted saying, "Mr Greenstreet, you never have to apologize. I am proud to help you. Thank you for serving our country." I cried. Oh, that the world could know what our military had done for us.

    I think the people should take their service dogs home but I'm not in charge. Who better to understand the dog and the person than the one that lived it with them??

  5. More Kipling.

    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

    Been there.

  6. Hey Peter,

    Another phrase along with Kipling was " Dogs and Soldiers keep off the grass…" I have seen the attitude toward me and my fellow vets. I don't talk about what I have done and I don't advertise.

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