Reaching the veteran and military voters will be a challenge for both parties in this presidential election. We are a tough group of people to please. Our demographic is broad just like the rest of America because we encompass a little bit of everything (like gender, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, and religions). However for the most part, those of us that have served our country in the military have a single thread that binds us together. We have internalized core values. Each branch has their own military core values but they are all pretty much the same. For those that are not familiar, here are the U.S. Army core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Not to say that Americans that have not served don’t have these values but veterans are like a large brotherhood with these values as its foundation. Our standards are high and we expect our Commander-in-Chief to exhibit the values that we have pledged to live by.
At times we can be loyal to a fault but it doesn’t mean we are loyal to a party. Some candidates donate to military charities and rally behind photo opportunities. Others have made promises to make positive changes while others have suggested military reform. VA health care, pay, educational benefits, pensions, job security, equipment and training, military family services and benefits are just some of the issues that we look for the candidates to take a stand on. We are after all a “beans and bullets” type of people. Veteran and military voters want to be reassured that our sacrifices will not be in vain and that our loved ones will be cared for. The candidates’ integrity and honor will be judged heavily. Can they fulfill the duty of Commander-in-Chief and make those tough decisions? Will they have the personal courage to do what is right even if it means going against their political party? Will they respect our service or will we just be an after thought?
You may think that looking at the presidential election in this perspective as being idealistic but when we choose our next president we will most certainly rely on our military experience to make our decision. Often times our decisions are made with our gut because of the internal bias of core values and high standards. This election will not be any different, we will choose a candidate that will best fulfill their promises made to the veteran and military voters.
What does your gut say?