Exploiting the uniform to advocate your own politics is shameful, writes Army vet Garrett Berntsen.
On September 1, Business Insider published an article about recent posts on Reddit’s military site that showed service members in uniform holding signs over their faces protesting the president’s policy toward Syria. Since then a host of other media outlets have picked up on the story and Reddit/Military has been flooded with posts on both sides of the argument. In an all-volunteer force that defends a nation with a free and healthy discourse surrounding our foreign policy, these photos come closer to treason than whistleblowing.
Dissent in the ranks is not novel; it’s a tradition as old as military service. What’s new is soldiers’ ability to leverage social media to broadcast their views and the amplifying effect that occurs when the social media buzz is then picked up by major media outlets. It’s a process that has the potential to report on important stories drawn from within the ranks but it can also, as in the recent Reddit case, transform commonplace barracks gripes into national news. What some press outlets have depicted as widespread dissent within the military is really just a symptom of the newfound ability to anonymously question national security decisions without facing consequences.