- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars national commander’s lengthy, intemperate response (“The VFW speaks for veterans,” Letter, Sunday) to my op-ed, “Who speaks for veterans?” (Opinion, April 30), confirms every major point I raised. Glen M. Gardner Jr. focuses exclusively on the benefits and funding that the VFW has helped secure for its members, praises the famously corrupt Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, and defends the Department of Homeland Security’s recent anti-veteran report.

My generation of veterans is not willing to trade in our honor for handouts and has no interest in becoming welfare recipients at the expense of our legacy.

There is no excuse for endorsing a congressman who used his position to convict Marines of murder in the court of public opinion before the investigation was completed, as Mr. Murtha did with the eight Marines in Haditha. Mr. Murtha has never apologized for this slander even after the Marines were exonerated and veterans refuse to forgive or forget his betrayal. No sum of money and no quantity of benefits is worth the sacrifice of our values and our pride.

Mr. Gardner’s continued defense of the infamous Homeland Security report is hollow and dangerous. This report creates a frame through which veterans and veteran-related incidents will be viewed by the media and subsequently by the public. It creates a false stereotype that will encourage generalizing the inevitable individual incidents to brand veterans as “extremists.”

The VFW failed to defend Vietnam veterans from this type of public slander. We will not allow ourselves to be the victims of the same betrayal. We fought and continue to fight, honorably and successfully, and our legacy must reflect that. Veterans’ service organizations exist to ensure that happens without compromise. Leaders like Mr. Gardner continue to fail us in this regard.

Mr. Gardner defends his organization’s 110-year reputation and brags about its legacy. I wish he would do the same for veterans themselves.

GABE LEDEEN

Senior fellow

Vets for Freedom

Chevy Chase

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