Editor: On June 30, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that transgender individuals would be welcome in all the military services and would be financially supported in their desire for medical transition procedures. I am concerned that we have lost focus on the purpose of our militaries—to fight and defend our nation and its citizens, and to be ready to do that on a moment’s notice.
Having served in the Navy for 34 years, I understand those priorities and how much time commanding officers are focused on how to train and build well-honed teams that are fully ready to go into harm’s way. As it is, besides the basic policy change, this announcement from SECDEF spends almost as much time addressing the need to retrain commanding officers and their staffs on adjusting to these new requirements. Are those the priorities we want our commanding officers focusing on in this world of turmoil?
How ironic that this announcement came out just prior to Independence Day—that historic time when our brave Founding Fathers said they would not put up with the tyranny of a government who made proclamations and demands on their subjects without considering their best interests. Those American patriots risked sacrificing their lives and fortunes for the “common good,” not for the desires of each individual.
Historically, the Military Services have been known for bringing in young, sometimes immature men and women and instilling them with the discipline to help them understand what it means to serve a much greater cause then “self;” to understand the need to give up personal desires for the good of the team; and in the overall process, often mature and find clearer direction in their lives. SECDEF’s new policy instead seems focused on using the military experience to assist confused individuals pursue their confusion. And who will pay for this self-choice desire for radical physical change that is extremely expensive? You – the American taxpayer. Perhaps not the best analogy, but it somewhat reminds me that although I am balding, I might feel like I would be a much more complete individual if I had a full head of hair again. Should I expect the federal government and the American taxpayer to pay for all the treatments necessary to “fulfill my needs?” Seriously? Why should we not expect individuals to undergo elective surgery on their own dime and their own personal time rather than being paid for by citizens of this country? Do we not have more important military needs in which to invest?
As we reflect on this recent Independence Day, my hope is that the citizens of this country will consider once again what it means to respect each individual because of their inherent worth as a human being, but also to better understand what it means to move our country forward, including supporting the demanding requirements of our military, by making decisions that truly serve the common good.
Rear Admiral Curtis Kemp, USN (Ret.), Leesburg