Selfless Service

In the Army, I was taught leadership principles and values. One of these values was selfless service. In a nutshell, selfless service means that you put the welfare of the nation and your fellow Soldiers before your own welfare.

Selfless service is serving your country by defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign or domestic. It means doing your duty without thought of recognition or gain. The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment to go a little further, endure a little longer, to accomplish the mission.

I guess that is why an article in Politico caught my attention. (

The article quotes Rep. Ryan as saying why he doesn’t want to be a leader in the House Republican Caucus.

“I could’ve decided to go on the elected leadership route years ago,” Ryan said during a luncheon sponsored by local chambers of commerce and the nonprofit news outlet the Texas Tribune. “I’m more of a policy person. I prefer spending my days on policy and my weekends at home with my family. My weekends consist of going to the YMCA for basketball and then one of their neighborhood parishes for basketball these days. I want to keep doing that. … The speaker is expected to fly around the country on weekends as well, helping folks — I’m not going to do that. I’m four days a week in D.C. and three days a week in Janesville — it’s a good mix, I like that mix.”

Really, “I’m not going to do that” was his reply? I have no idea what his intention was in making these remarks but the impact of his words was like a slap in the face.

Did he mean that his family time is more important than helping others? I know he does help people; he helped me when I ran for office. But at a time when all we hear from Republicans is that they can’t do anything without a majority in the Senate, you would think each and every Republican Representative and Senator would be “all hands on deck” to go a little further, endure a little longer to make sure that Republicans win in 2014.

Veterans put their life on the line to free the oppressed. During their time in the military, they missed more family events then they can count, but did they ever say when their deployment orders came, “I’m not going to do that”?

Veterans are not the only ones who have sacrificed to “help folks”. Their spouses sacrifice having a normal career. Even though they did not enlist, they are forced to move every couple of years. This means their resume will not be competitive. It will have gaps. They will miss out on job opportunities and promotions. Higher education will be harder since they have to transfer from college to college with each move, losing credits as they move. But you’ll never hear them say, “I’m not going to do that.”

Their children will sacrifice so the Veteran can serve his country. They will change schools every couple of years. With each move, they will say goodbye to friends and with each deployment they will worry about a possible final goodbye to their parent. But you’ll never hear them say, “I’m not going to do that.”

Veterans and their families would prefer to be home on weekends, at a home where they can put down roots without moving next year. But they know that their selfless service and sacrifices are worth protecting America.

While Ryan may not have intended his remarks to be taken this way, his remark does make me wonder why I should sacrifice my time or money to help Republicans get elected.

In light of his position on working age military retirees being over-compensated, his remark about working weekends or being away from his family while enjoying the tax payer salary and benefits a Congressman earns does sound callous.

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