Thank You, and a question about service (with a response from a MRFF client)

Mr. Weinstein,

Thank you so much for your personal note on your letter to me regarding my recent donation.  I really appreciated the personal touch.

I am in awe of the courage you show in founding and running the Foundation, particularly given the heinous attacks on you and your family – Keep up the great work which I appreciate.

I would like my son to consider the military as an option after high school or college  However, as a non-religious person, the stories I read about religion in the military are making me reconsider that recommendation.  I myself am from Singapore and was in the military there (conscription), which is an experience I am glad to have had, and my father-in-law is a graduate of the Air Force Academy (Class of ’63).  I would be interested in your advice to a teenager contemplating entering the military, particularly in this post-9/11 world.

Best regards,

(name withheld)

Mikey Weinstein shared your e-mail with me, and I asked him if it would be OK for me to send you an answer.

First…a little background.  I’m a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, having served a quarter Century in uniform.  I’m an Air Force Academy graduate.  In fact, that’s where I met Mikey, back in 1975.

And that leads me to why I wanted to answer your note.  Mikey is but one of many people I consider Brothers.  Many people have long since lost touch with people they went to school with or worked with after decades go by, but the military is genuinely a place that forges Brotherhoods.  The friendships I made while in uniform are much more heartfelt and lasting than any friendships I made before or after being in the military.  I recommend it highly.  Mikey doesn’t randomly send out private correspondence, but will occasionally share something with those of us in his inner circle.  Your note hit a chord with me.  Mikey’s work is important, because any religious test in our military should never be tolerated, but his work is targeted against those who don’t comply with the rules and regulations.  I’m sure he’ll agree that most military members put the Constitution well ahead of religious beliefs.

Is our military a perfect place?  Far from it.  As in any organization, some leaders rise further through the ranks than they should.  Some duty assignments aren’t as good as others.  And, in today’s military, some officers put their religious faith ahead of their Constitutional responsibilities.

I wouldn’t rethink your recommendation to your son.  If your son isn’t particularly religious, I think he’ll find things better than someone would have seen it a few years ago.  And, if he does run into any problems, Mikey will be there to help.  Our military needs hard-working leaders.  They need people with a vision for the future.  They need patriots.  They need people who believe in the Constitution.

My advice to a teen-ager who is considering joining the military is to go for it.  It’s an incredibly rewarding career.  You’ll be surrounded by outstanding people and will forge memories that will last a lifetime.  We all need to be aware of the problem areas, and work diligently to overcome them, but we also need to stay ever mindful that the people who create the problems are a vast minority of the overall Armed Forces.

Again, for every area where the military can be improved, there’s a Champion, like Mikey, working toward that goal.  Please don’t have your son avoid an opportunity because all those goals haven’t been achieved.

(name withheld)

Lt Col, USAF (Retired)

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