"Rose Covered Glasses" is a serious essay, satire and photo-poetry commentary from a group of US Military Veterans in Minnesota.
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M. Schmiegel and Patrick A. Burke
the civilian-military/civilian-service divide and ensuring support
for our military, first responders, and their families, are critical
at this time.
proven solution to build understanding and increase engagement is the
creation of hands-on volunteer opportunities during which civilians
can meet our military and first responders in person and learn what
they do and what they experience.“
18 years our nation has been at war. In the face of conflict and
adversity at home and abroad, brave Americans have volunteered to
serve not only in our armed forces but as first responders in
thousands of communities across the country. Between them, more than
4.4 million men and women have taken an oath to uphold and defend the
Constitution and pledged to protect the freedoms and securities we
enjoy as Americans.
9/11, however, observers have acknowledged a
widening gap of
“understanding” between the 2.1 million Americans who serve in
our all-volunteer military force and the rest of the population.
While our nation’s longest war continues and hundreds of thousands
of service members still and will continue to deploy each year, a
majority of military families feel increasingly isolated from their
communities and disconnected from their civilian counterparts.
are also less personally connected to military service than ever
before. According to the Department of Defense, the number of young
adults with parents who have served in the military has
dropped from 40 percent in 1995 to 15 percent today, and less than 1
percent of the U.S. population currently serves in the armed forces,
compared with more than 12 percent during World War II.”
a similar “civilian-service divide” is developing between the
general public and the 2.3 million police and firefighters who also
serve in harm’s way. In the most recent Bureau
of Justice Statistics survey issued
last fall, the number of Americans age 16 or older who had contact
with the police declined from 26 percent to 21 percent in four years,
a drop of more than 9 million people.
of how communities are joining together successfully to share
experiences can be seen through recent
events in Baltimore on
June 1, Philadelphia on July 11, and
Aug. 17, when hundreds of volunteers stood alongside service families
to express gratitude in a tangible way. The battalion chief for the
Baltimore County Fire Department said it was “the most incredible
thing” he had seen in almost 44 years in fire service. That
sentiment was further reinforced by the Baltimore Police Department’s
chief of patrol, who pointed out officers “needed the community …
to help solve issues.”
a similar large-scale service project took place in New
York City on
Sept. 5 with the production of more than 10,000 signature Operation
Gratitude Care Packages and Care Pouches.
During the week of Sept. 11, volunteers will deliver those packages
to deployed service members around the world and to first responders
who responded to the Pentagon attack 18 years ago. These
interpersonal activities will help close the gap between those who
serve and those who are served and provide avenues to express mutual
respect and appreciation.
of 15 service members in Afghanistan and 118
police and firefighter
at home so far in 2019, communities in our country yearn for
opportunities to recognize and thank all who serve in uniform.
Hands-on volunteerism is the most effective way for American citizens
to engage with our military and first responders, forge strong bonds
and build sustainable relationships that ultimately will strengthen
their communities, as well as strengthen the resolve of the brave men
and women who serve and protect them.”
M. Schmiegel is a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who now
serves as the chief executive officer of Operation Gratitude, a
national 501c3 nonprofit.
Honorable Patrick A. Burke is the former United States marshal and
assistant chief of police for the District of Columbia, and now
serves as the executive director of the Washington D.C. Police