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Hot Topics: February 2015: Op-Ed


By John Edward Cleckner Sr. US Army Special Forces Retired

With the mismanagement of the Islamic Terrorists Wars in the Mid-East and the continued exposure of the Veterans Administrations criminal actions for not caring for our Veteran Healthcare needs, our Active Duty Military and Veterans are suffering greatly because of the total failure of the United States Government to do its job.

Recent events have finally brought a nagging concern of mine to the reality that our National Leaders and especially our Military Generals ARE NOT managing our Military Properly. Our “Fighting Men” are literally being worn out by a prolonged set of wars and other COMBAT Military deployments in every part of the world. Yes our Special Operations Forces (SOF) are deployed on every Continent in the World and most are experiencing Combat. Remember, because of the cowards of the 1960s we have NO DRAFT, consequently we must rely on an All Volunteer Military of American Patriots to defend our Country and insure peace around the world.

Additionally and tragically our Federal Government/Legislators and the Veterans Administration (VA) are NOT caring for the men & women Medically when they return from WAR. (Veterans are “A” Political. You NEVER politicize Veterans or the Active Duty Military) They are sent to WAR in harm’s way by politicians, most of whom have NEVER heard a shot fired in anger and have NO CLUE as to what they are making these men experience. As a consequence to this, legislators on ALL Sides of the Political Isle are Politicizing our Combat Soldiers and especially our Veterans. Nothing damages the fighting man any more than Politicians that criticize them and refuse to live up to the US commitment to care for our Veterans combat medical needs.

The United States MUST address the horrors of WAR. What I mean by that is once a man has gone to WAR, when he returns home he is a changed man and will NEVER be the same again. Some combat solders are trained (As in Special Operations Forces SOF) to endure extreme hardships and can better cope with the hell of War. But most Soldiers will always have gremlins they must deal with until the day they die.

Others will lose limbs or suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) that will challenge not only them, but their families and their Medical Support Groups and tragically the Medical Mental Healthcare Doctors and Clinicians who admittedly have NO cures for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This has been a medical problem since Wars first started. Don’t be fooled by the lies told by the Media, PTSD is an enormous problem with every American Veterans from the Revolutionary War to right now suffering from it.

As far as the TBI issue, No one in the Medical Community has a clue as to how to address it medically, let alone how to cure these horrendously injured warriors. There is no continuity in these injuries and they affect the most complex thing in the Universe, the Human BRAIN. After a short period of time these Veterans are sent home to be warehoused until they die. The burden ends up with their families having to care for them and Non Profits raising money from the American people to help care for them and the VA looks the other way…

Recently the breakdown of any semblance of peace in the mid east and the sensationalism of the failure of the VA to do its job have made all of this concern come full circle. Our All Modern Volunteer Army is worn out, so what happens now?

I knew in my heart of hearts that what I had been witnessing over the past 10 years as a Combat Medically Retired Military Veteran, and Veterans Activist, was going to end up hurting or maybe even destroying the Combat Soldiers in the US Army Infantry, Special Operations Forces and the Marines. (Ground Fighters)

This is much more personal than that for me; My oldest son, a Green Beret Non Commissioned Officer for 14 years and later an Air Force Special Operations Officer for 10 years that has had 41 deployments, 24 of them combat deployments and is a “Three War Veteran“ with the Combat Medical Badge (CMB). My Great Grandson was deployed as a Marine Sniper. Six of my Nephews have deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, one an EOD and is constantly deployed. My brother, an Air Force retired Colonel, served in Iraq and commanded two A-10 Wart Hog Squadrons in Kuwait. During the Vietnam War my brother Raymond served as a US Marine and was killed during TET of 1968 in Hue. So it’s also very personal to me on how our men in combat roles are being utilized and how they are treated when they return home from War.

By that statement I mean clearly that our Leaders, both Military and Civilian have abused, over used, not planned for what they have committed our men to do, over extended, and ignored the facts that you can only send a man into combat, especially Combat in Cities like our soldiers experienced in Iraq and in part in Afghanistan so many times and expect them to be able to continue to function at the level they must to do their jobs/missions.

Most abused has been the Special Operations Personnel. The media and others speak of the Army Infantry having as many as 2 or 3 deployments. Most if not all of the Special Forces are experiencing 8, 9, 10 & even more deployments. And these guys are in combat up to their ear lobes. No rear area nonsense here. These men are literally the TIP OF THE SPEAR. And consider this, when we pulled out of Iraq we left the SOF people there to continue to fight. When the CIC said he was ending the War in Afghanistan he and his Generals said they would not only leave our SOF Troops there, they would increase their numbers.

NOW with ISIS taking over the mid east and more, the US Government is saying, no boots on the ground, but send in more “Special Forces”. What the hell are they??? Aren’t they “Boots on the Ground”?

The “Cream de Cream” of the US Military, are SOF Soldiers, the Army Green Berets, Marine SOF, Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, and Air Force SOF which are being turned into Zombies because of the military concept that the USA can get rid of Large Armies and fight with SOF Soldiers (and win) because of their training, dedication and record of successes as a force multipliers.

I had the great pleasure and distinct honor of visiting Ft. Bragg North Carolina in November 2010. I spent a week on my old base where I served as a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and as a Special Forces (Green Beret) Soldier for almost two decades.

While there I was honored by the Secretary of the Army and inducted into the Special Forces Hall of Fame and designated a Distinguished Member of the First Special Forces Regiment (DMOR). This exposure allowed me to speak to and interview many of America’s most dedicated and professional soldiers the world has ever seen. Unfortunately I did not find these Green Berets, of the new generation, like we were before, during and after the Vietnam War.

I found them to be solemn, distant, very quiet (the Green Berets are known as the “Quiet Professionals”) but there was something else that I was sensing. All of these great warriors had a presence about themselves with a thousand meter stare that looked right through you and they showed very little if any emotion. They were also supremely confident.

When I served we trained hard, we fought hard and we partied hard. These guys train harder than we ever did, they certainly must fight harder than we did and then they go to the gym and work out. The majority of these men are career soldiers with families and are not only supremely physically fit and superbly trained, but they are intellectually prepared with undergraduate and master’s degrees.

I pray that our active duty military comes home and especially the SOF personnel and that our Veteran Heroes receive the expert medical care they so desperately need & deserve and that tragedies like the suicides are handled professionally and that the Political Blame Game does not over shadow the mental breakdown of another Soldier who was used up and then discarded by our Government.


John E. Cleckner Sr. Order of St. Philip Neri, 1st Special Forces Regimental DMOR
Major, United States Army Special Forces Retired (100% Disabled Combat Veteran)
Veterans Advocate and Political Activist
3560 Dwayne Court,
Redding, CA 96001
(530) 243-2100
[email protected]