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Guest Commentary – One Veteran’s Perspective

By   /  January 13, 2018  /  10 Comments



Thank you Congressman Darrell Issa

I am a former Marine and Vietnam War combat veteran who also served in the Marine Corps, Navy and Army reserves. After completing my tour in Vietnam, I returned to a country that was greatly divided over our involvement in Southern Asia. Many Americans held the military personally responsible for our government’s policies. Vile, obscene, vulgar and unfounded accusations followed many of us who returned during that tumultuous time. Most veterans chose to keep quiet about their military service and hence we became ‘The Forgotten’ generation of the military. That is how it was for many years…so be it…life isn’t always fair, just like war isn’t always fair, sometimes it takes the best of our men and women without reason or explanation. We did our patriotic duty and we didn’t owe anyone an apology for our service.

It would have been easy to play the victim card and blame everyone for how we were treated, but what most Vietnam War veterans decided to do was get on with their lives. We came to the realization that seeking the approval of those who didn’t respect us was a useless endeavor. We were used to fighting a much more dangerous enemy than a group of college kids and peace activists whose main weapons were their vulgarity, wanton vandalism and disrespect for the same American flag that covered the coffins of our fallen comrades. Too many of our brothers in arms had made the ultimate sacrifice for us to disrespect them by retreating into a corner while waiting for society’s approval or the creation of a ‘safe zone’ before we ventured back out in the open again, whimpering, ‘Please like me.’

In my case, I owed it to myself to make an informed decision before I dug my heels in.  I left my home in Kansas City, Missouri, moved to California; established residency then enrolled at U.C. Berkeley and majored in Communication and Public Policy. I wanted to be in the center of the storm of anti- war protests so I would know both sides from firsthand experience.

Was their cause just? After three years in this liberal school, I came to the inevitable conclusion that most students who adhered to the anti-war policy had an ideology that was not based on fact or reason. They had created a scenario in their minds and they would not be dissuaded from their fantasy.

As one of my political science professors told me, “You cannot have a rational decision with those whose position is based on feelings and not facts…because feelings are undebatable. It is in your best interest to just walk away.”

Over the years I have remained an independent voter, choosing never to align myself with any political party and doing my best to look at each issue based on its own merits. One of my biggest regrets is that I often cannot find all the information necessary to make a truly informed decision and must rely on a politician to tell me his version of the truth…seldom the best way.

Years ago when I began researching Global Warming, I could not really determine the accuracy with great certainty of the findings of either position. I decided that I could not ask the government to be pro-active in emission controls if I wasn’t willing to do my small part, so even if I did err, it would be on the side of caution. Lessons from my youth came back to remind me that unless I’m willing to do my part and make sacrifices it would be hypocritical to ask others to do theirs. I attended a seminar at the California Center for Sustainable Energy about solar and was one the first homeowners in my neighborhood to install solar panels on my house over ten years ago. When I became concerned about too many emissions on our roads, I leased a Nissan Leaf all electric vehicle and my wife got a hybrid to reduce our carbon footprints.

At one time, I thought about politics as a career, but quickly realized that I had neither the demeanor nor the patience to be insulted by people while trying to convince them to vote for me. It would have led me to an early grave or a one way ticket to a mental institution.

One of my last jobs before I retired was for the Department of Defense on Camp Pendleton. While I was there for over 15 years, I had the occasion to meet Congressman Darrell Issa. By this time in my life, I had already developed an inherent mistrust of the establishment, but I did my homework and when I brought issues to Congressman Issa, concerning mold in base housing, water contamination, security and cost reduction procedures, I had my evidence and facts ready for review.

Congressman Darrell Issa’s first statement to me was, “Camp Pendleton is the crown jewel of my district and I will do whatever I can to help the Marines and their families.”

I was reasonably skeptical and to be honest, I held Congressman Issa to a higher standard than I would have held somebody else, but he kept his word and did whatever he could to correct every issue.

You don’t have to believe me, just look at the facts. Since Congressman Issa has been in office, there have been thousands of new government quarters built on base and the others have been renovated. Environmental protection on the base is  state of the art and the base is working to increase its sustainable energy capabilities. There is a new Naval Hospital that can be easily seen from Highway Five, as well as many major infrastructure improvements. Camp Pendleton continues to be a vital part of North County, pumping millions of dollars into the economy. This all has happened on Congressman Issa’s watch and he deserves much of the credit for his ongoing and unwavering support of our military.

When I had personnel issues with the Veterans Administration and the Office of Personnel Management, Congressman Issa and his staff, especially Amy Walker resolved the issue quickly and professionally while treating me with respect and courtesy. When I referred other veterans who needed help to Congressman Issa’s office, they also received the same high quality of service. Once again, these are first hand facts.

I’ve had the occasion to attend a Congressman Issa rally with a few other veterans and I was appalled by the rudeness and belligerence of some of the attendees.  The Congressman was continuously interrupted while being insulted on a variety of issues. One woman criticized the Congressman for President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Accord and when I looked around the parking lot, I did not see one electric vehicle parked there. My suggestion…gets solar and an electric car then talk.

Another man was quick to interject that we should cut the military budget in half and give the money to social programs, having no qualms at all about putting our military men and women in even more danger than they are already are.

Some things apparently never change, although I wish they would. When I was at Berkeley, people justified their inappropriate behavior by convincing themselves that since they were right, the laws and rules of common courtesy didn’t pertain to them. I am seeing that same attitude again.

You hate Congressman Issa, that’s your right. You don’t like President Trump, once again that’s your prerogative, but make no mistake, there are still thousands of veterans just like myself who are willing to go right back to war to defend our country, its principles and our beliefs.

The Military and Veterans of the 49th  Congressional district have lost a strong voice and a good friend with Congressman Issa’s decision to not seek re-election. This is my truth and nobody is taking it from me without a fight.



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  • Published: 11 months ago on January 13, 2018
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  • Last Modified: January 13, 2018 @ 5:26 pm
  • Filed Under: Local

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  1. Mona says:

    I truly enjoyed reading these honest and well thought words from Mr. Calabrese.

    Congressman Issa has supported our Military and that is a heroic deed.

  2. Joe says:

    Wow, many years of great service. I am sure he is “burnt out”. And, it’s a shame that he is not seeking re-election.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Steve says:

    I voted for Congressman Issa in the past and will miss him. I do not trust Applegate or the Democrats

  4. Guy says:

    I am an independent voter and I will never accept the vulgarity of the Democrats, Never!!

  5. Marsha says:

    Nice opinion! I totally agree

  6. Josh says:

    Thank you Congressman Issa. You have represented the people of your district with honor and integrity…I will miss you. Good luck in your future endeavors.

  7. Chris says:

    I am an American…I am a veteran…I voted for Congressman Issa
    and am proud of all three!

  8. Dan says:

    I served in the military and went from being deployable to being called deplorable… I voted for Congressman Issa because I judged him on his performance….it was that simple

  9. Jeremy says:

    Count me in …I hate politics …I liked Congressman Issa for his pro veteran positions… Fight on for America

  10. Kyle says:

    The vile vulgarity of some Americans and their perspective that their rights supersede those who believe in law and order has become more commonplace and more despicable with each day.

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