"Our military is the most skilled, best-trained all-volunteer force on the planet," said National Commander Paul A. Morin. "Like that recently espoused by Sen. John Kerry, Congressman Rangel's view of our troops couldn't be further from the truth and is possibly skewed by his political opposition to the war in Iraq."
According to Rangel, "If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career, or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq. If there's anyone who believes these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No bright young individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of some educational benefits," Rangel said.
Rangel was responding to a question during an interview yesterday on Fox News Sunday about a recent study by the Heritage Foundation which found that those enlisting in the military tend to be better educated than the general public and that military recruiting seems to be more successful in middle-class and wealthy neighborhoods than in poor ones.
According to the study, 97 percent of military enlistees were high school graduates versus 80 percent of Americans in general. The study also concludes that the average reading level of military personnel is a full grade level higher than that of the general population.
"I'm not sure I understand what is unfair about letting adults make their own career choices," Morin said as he visited troops in Korea this week. "Troops serving today have a higher education level than the overall population. Why another member of Congress is insulting our troops' commitment and education level is beyond me."
Morin said the American Legion applauds and appreciates the great sacrifices of those who serve -- many of whom have put civilian careers aside, college on hold or given up high paying jobs to enlist.
More and more troops say it's duty and honor before college fund that motivated them to join. Recruiting numbers have been met this year, but more importantly, servicemembers are reenlisting so retention within the armed forces is great, Morin explained. Not everyone holds the view that we should wait to be attacked again as a nation.
"These brave men and women lay it on the line every day for each and every one of us, for which I am very grateful," Morin said. "Their selfless commitment for the betterment of our world from radical extremists is beyond commendable. It's time for members of Congress to stop insulting our troops.
"While the American Legion shares the congressman's appreciation for education, the troops in Iraq represent the most sophisticated, technologically superior military that the world has ever seen," Morin said. "I call on Congressman Rangel to not only apologize to our troops but to also fight for pay increases and make significant improvements to the current GI Bill -- reserves and guard included, as he prepares for a party chairmanship in the 110th Congress."