4Troops on QVC Today! At Noon!

Your new favorite band – 4Troops – will be performing LIVE on QVC fromm noon – 1pm (ET) on the show Q Check.  They’ll be singing their first single, “For Freedom,” as well as other selections.  Senior Vice President of Communications John Hansen first visited the group a few weeks ago.  Some thoughts below…

4TROOPS vocalists Daniel Jens, David Clemo, Meredith Melcher and Ron Henry perform aboard the USS Intrepid in New York City during the Monday night taping of a PBS television special to be aired in June. The former Soldiers honed their craft in Army Entertainment Division programs run by the Army Family, Morale and Recreation Command. 4TROOPS self-entitled debut album is scheduled to be released April 28. (Photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs)

The 4Troops adventure began for real tonight on the USS Intrepid in New York City.  The four singers who comprise 4Troops are veterans of the war in Iraq.

Before we go further, some full disclosure.  Some of the proceeds from the sale of the group’s new CD will benefit the USO, the Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  It was a very generous offer made by the group’s management.  But, there are other reasons to support 4Troops, and the USO (and I imagine the other beneficiaries as well) would have been on board with 4Troops without any incentive other than supporting the efforts of these four veterans.

DON’T REPEAT OUR PAST MISTAKES

As a Vietnam veteran, I don’t think anyone would blame me for wondering when the other shoe would drop when it comes to troop support.  It hasn’t happened, which is gratifying as a veteran and an employee of an organization that relies on the public’s ongoing generosity.  If it were not for the continued support the USO receives from individuals and our great corporate partners. (By the way, welcome to our great friends at Frito-Lay, our newest strategic corporate partner.  The Tostidos Bowl was great fun)

The public is smarter than it was a little more than a generation ago.  Our donors span political ideology – sometimes it seems like we’re the last of the red-hot non-partisans.  Maybe it’s because the military is completely voluntary.  Even though 18-year-old males have to register with the Selective Service, there’s no chance of a draft in the foreseeable future.  Everyone I talk to think this has made the military better.  The fact that it, too, is smarter than the military of the past is one thing.  What’s great to see is troops completely committed to their mission.  They’re working at a job they ASKED for, and that makes a difference.

IS PAST REALLY PROLOGUE?

There are somewhere between 1 million and 2 million active duty, National Guard and reserve troops in uniform.  At best, that means that less than 1 percent of our fellow Americans are toting the load for the rest of us.  (The IAVA effectively reminds of that fact all the time, and bless them for that)

Upside – we have a great military, dedicated to their mission and focused on their goals.  They’ll make great employees for someone someday.

Downside – Many Americans say they support the military, but they appear to be doing it without thinking about the service and sacrifice of members of the military and their families.  Out of sight out of mind?  Maybe, probably not.  Americans are good and generous people.  We all have a zillion things on our minds (groceries, yard work, who walked the dog last?), so if something isn’t in our face or on our growing list of  “must do’s,’ we can’t be bothered.

SOMETIMES ONE ANWER SOLVES TWO QUESTIONS

Or, we can blame the fact that there’s no draft.

Inside this issue are many things to worry about.  One is that the lack of a universal commitment to do something (join the Marines, work for the Peace Corps, volunteer for a cause) disconnects us.  Many of us really are bowling alone.

Sadly, what we hear beneath the near universal support for troops is something more fundamentally disturbing.  “Look, this isn’t MY war.”  “This is something the government started and will have to end.  It’s just a money pit, and I can’t do anything about it.”  “Sure, I support them, but they volunteered.  They aren’t my problem.”

Okay, there’s an implicit and explicit contract Americans enter with every man and woman who volunteers to defend us.  Most of the time, our military is no closer to conflict than live fire training sessions in a desert somewhere.  But, when the nation calls on them, it’s really calling on all of us.

No, the military doesn’t call on fat old men like me.  I’d need help stepping out of a Blackhawk, and you can forget about any “jumping out with weapons and pack” foolishness.  That’s how it has been, and will always be … Healthy young people step forward generation after generation to take care of the rest of us.

I’ve lived long enough to give up my fantasies of future heroic service.  But, I have not given up hope that my fellow citizens know who saves their bacon every day in places most of can’t spell.  That’s what’s important.

I DID HAVE A POINT WHEN I STARTED

And, that’s why the USO supports 4Troops. Wherever they go to perform, they will remind people that they have returned from a war.  Just as they were among our best ambassadors around the world, their new mission is to represent their brothers and sisters who face harm and uncertainty and separation from families every day.

With each passing day, the current conflicts become remote notions for new people in our country.

I just figured out that 20-year-olds were farther from my war than I was removed from World War I when I was born.

The difference is that our parents faced and survived a depression and a world war in their own ways.  And THEIR parents faced and survived the first real world war.  Each generation came back to build a prosperous country, expanding opportunities for their fellow citizens. – sometimes far too late, but the wheel turned and more of us shared in the dream of this country.

This generation of troops is colorblind.  We can only hope it is as gender neutral as we would all want, and as blind to every prejudice that creeps in from time to time.

The beauty of focus on a mission is that the mission is what’s important; not the self-important ramblings of talking nitwits on TV.  Or me.

So, hats off to 4Troops.  See them when they’re in your town.  By their CD and teach your children that service does matter.