Generations of service

At the Clermont County Fair a few weeks ago, I had the honor of administering the oath of enlistment to young men and women volunteering to serve the United States of America in uniform. These recruits don’t know where their responsibilities will take them, but they understand the call to serve their nation.

Service to others is something more important than self. Arthur Ashe remarked that, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” The opportunity to serve cannot exist without the blessings of freedom.

These recruits enlisted because of their sense of duty and they will come to know the values of service. In the Army, we operate on the core principles outlined in the acronym LDRSHIP: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. These valuable traits will enhance their character both in military and civilian life.

When these new recruits return from their assignments, whether in peacetime or at war, a grateful nation will greet them – a welcome departure from the angry and divisive days of Vietnam. On the recent 62nd anniversary of Korea Armistice Day, the House VA Committee laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honor the sacrifices made by those that served in the so-called “forgotten war” – the Korean War. Everyday citizens are working to correct any shortcomings by volunteering and organizing hundreds of “Honor Flights” to escort WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans to Washington D.C. to see the memorials that honor them.

This August, I join hundreds of thousands of fellow Reservists and Guardsmen that complete two weeks of active duty training. Today, as when I served in Iraq, I have the honor of working with many of our troops that have sacrificed so much personally, including physically and emotionally, on behalf of the well-being and survival of our nation.

Since the Revolutionary War, more than 42 million people have served in the American military during wartime. Our commitment to those who served has faltered in recent years, from secret wait lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs to backlogged disability claims. I’m glad to report that we’ve passed numerous bills in the House this year to address these shortcomings. Amongst these are the Veterans ID card Act, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, and the VA Accountability Act.

There is more work to be done, of course. We will work to keep the promises made to our veterans so that our troops will never question our nation’s commitment to them.

During the chaos of WWI, Private Martin Treptow was killed while serving in France. In his recovered diary, Private Treptow had jotted down the following: ”America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

Amid the heat and heavy air on that Sunday afternoon at the Clermont County Fair, after looking into the eyes of America’s newest defenders, I could see that Private Treptow’s commitment lives on within today’s generation of servicemen and women – and we are grateful.

Congressman Brad Wenstrup represents the Second District of Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a veteran of the Iraq War and a member of the Army Reserve.

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Rep. Brad Wenstrup

Contributing Columnist