Words By Russ Hilmandolar.
We’ve all done it. Whether in a formal academic setting or while sitting on the ramp door of a C-130 on a hot summer day, we’ve all played the “king for a day” game. You know it well. “If I were king, I would change this/that about the U.S. military.” More often than not, these thoughts would come to me when I was standing in one of the inevitable “hurry up and wait” lines in the Air Force; but, more than 15 years later, these ideas continue to cross my mind.
If I were king for a day, I would:
- Give all GIs 2-for-1 credit—for every day that GI serves in an active war zone, give him/her two days’ time in service credit toward retirement. For example, if a GI is in Iraq for 4 months and then Afghanistan for another 6 months (total of 10 months), add 20 months’ credit to his/her time in service. Worst case: a GI serves 10 straight years in active war zones and is eligible to retire with full benefits just like a 20 year GI with zero time in active battle. The GI benefits by being able to retire at an earlier age and make up for the lost time with his/her family. The military benefits through the improved morale of its forces and their families.
- Make all military pay and benefits 100% tax exempt, period.
- Give the military full authority and responsibility for counting and reporting the votes of its members in all federal elections. Do away with the military absentee ballot by having GIs vote at their assigned units. Remove all bureaucrats and politicos from the equation. Make every single military vote count! In fact, since I’m king for a day, I would give every GI two votes to the average citizen’s one.
- “Against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”--Immediately make all U.S. military installations 100% open carry for all GIs. Additionally, allow GIs to carry handguns open and concealed off-base, everywhere, without requiring a permit. We live in perilous times abroad and increasingly at home. We need vigilant domestic watchdogs more now than ever. While this would not be official military operations at home, it would allow individual GIs to make a personal choice to be armed and ready if threatened or if they felt the duty to intervene to stop a terrorist act at home.
- Like the House of Representatives, give the military the power to raise articles of impeachment on the CinC. While the process would still run through Congress, the military could be the adult in the room and initially raise the charges against the President. The CinC should not be above the law at the same time he/she is holding those that serve under him/her to a higher standard.
- Give the military the authority to properly defend all U.S. borders. Patrol the border by air, ground, and water. Prevent all cross-border infiltrations and incursions. Deter all illegal crossings. Restrict the area of operations to no more than 10-15 miles inside the border so that there is no ill expansion of this authority. This solves a lot of problems in the U.S. and gives the GIs the chance to spend more time defending their nation while being at home with their families.
- Create a national program for the military that encourages and enables GIs to continue serving their country by running for national office. The program would send a number of qualifying GIs each year to special preparatory training, honorably discharge them, and provide them with a stipend to begin their run for congressional seats. The goal of the program is to inject strong, patriotic, military leadership into the House of Representatives to restore the American faith in the U.S. government.
- Since the U.S. government controls the student loan business in America these days, forgive the student loan debt for all GIs who have honorably served in an active war zone during since 9-11.
So what do you think? Do you agree with the above ideas? What are your “king for a day” thoughts?