[This is a guest post by David M. Jordan who is a retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the United States Navy and lives on Georgetown Lake.]
I question the appropriateness of Ryan Zinke using his military background as the basis for a political campaign. I believe his actions denigrate all who have served in the US military, worn the uniform with pride, and do not expect acclaim for our deeds; that his actions could be conceived as being condoned by the US Navy as being in violation of US Navy Uniform Regulations, which prohibit the wearing of the uniform or any part of it for political aims, seems to have not occurred to Mr. Zinke.
We who have been retired from the US Navy long enough to realize that most people get tired of hearing about it real quick, have many medals and decorations among our souvenirs have had experiences that we might sometimes reluctantly share if someone asks. We can put some things on a resume and some things we can’t. None of us can hang up a sign with our stars or chevrons and a gentleman really never brags. We care for our families and our way of life as we always have.
Mr. Zinke, on the other hand, has really not been a civilian long enough understand that he is selling his uniform and insignia to espouse a political agenda and that act is disrespecting everyone else who has worn that uniform.
I now spend my life in the National Forests. I am writing this letter in a cabin with a Forest Service property lease that is across the lake from our past [Montana] governor’s home. I work at a ski area that is on Forest Service land up the road. My family is comfortable. Mr. Zinke is selling out the life I fought for and he is trying to make it look like I agree with him.
I am a retired Master Chief Petty Officer. I am very proud of my service but am a little embarrassed when someone thanks me for it. I love my uniform and it would be nice to wear it to a job interview. I can’t really share most of my sea stories because most people think I’m boasting or lying. Many of my friends are Honorably Discharged, not retired, and wear things on their VFW and American Legion hats. The rules for active duty, reserve and retired persons are different. These rules and reasons for them are spelled out in US Navy Uniform Regulations. Google it.
I don’t expect you to attack a hero. A well-intentioned query to the CNO or Chief of Naval Special Warfare could be interesting. I did not make Rear Admiral because I was not that perfect. I made it as far I did with the help of people above me and the sweat of my shipmates. Most of us don’t make it to the top but we are all honorable.
Mr. Zinke has not had the courage to publicly embrace his Tea Party friends and giga–buck backers. He does not advertise his plan to destroy our way of life and cash in on Montana’s wealth of natural resources.
The military life is nothing if not politics. It is not noted as an incubator for statesmen. (Colin Powell is an exception, but he made 4 Star General.)
Thank YOU for your service and sacrifice for our country,
David M. Jordan MCPO(SW) USN,ret.
Ps. To Senator Walsh, Sir, I have seen strong men ask for help in the most unbelievable ways. War is hell. Welcome home.