Military Hood Ornaments

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The First Lady unveils her "Joining Forces" campaign Tuesday at the White House / DoD photo

What does it mean when the First Lady of the United States has to unveil a program to help military families when the U.S. is engaged in two-and-a-half wars, a pair of them for nearly a decade? It’s the outcome of lengthy conflicts – with no clear goal – and a warrior class grown apart from the nation it is pledged to defend. It also is a pretty strong indication that the nation doesn’t see those wars as vital.

“We should all be working together on this,” Michelle Obama told USA Today on Tuesday after the official launch of her new “Joining Forces” initiative at the White House. “These are pretty solid Americans out here that are making these sacrifices quietly for all the rest of us.”

Since when did we start waging war “quietly”? Sure, Mrs. Obama was speaking of the challenges facing military families as their loved ones head off to war, in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya, but should the body politic be so divorced from the reality faced by military families? If they are, some would argue such warriors are mere hood ornaments in the national life. Should the U.S. risk its young men and women in such endeavors when public support is so tepid?

Mrs. Obama and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, say their goal is to create a program that will last beyond the Obama Administration. “Our military families deserve our respect and support at every stage of their lives,” the First Lady said, “no matter who’s in office.”

“Joining Forces” will be overseen by a three-member board including retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, fired by Obama as Afghan commander last year after typical military joking about his superiors with a Rolling Stone reporter who wasn’t in on the ribbing. So just think of Stan McChrystal as a hood ornament…on a hood ornament.