Caleb Campbell & Lion's Dilemma: He's a Recruiter & It IS About Troop Morale

Patrick ReadSenior Writer IJuly 24, 2008

Having listened to and read up on the Caleb Campbell issue, and what the mass media calls “a move to help enlistment numbers,” it is time to get it right already. 

Let me take the time to apologize to some ahead of time, but this one hits close to home for this vet, whose brothers are "still in it to win it." I'm just another ignorant soldier talking about sports and the war, the exact same conversation is taking place on every base in the military.

Campbell isn't the first athlete to join the service: Joe Louis joined the Army as did Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams was a pilot in the Army Air Corpse, Hank Greenberg, Billy Southworth, Bob Feller, Billy Martin, Stan Musial, Smokey Bill Read, and Bobby Mercer among many others. They all make soldiers proud, and none; including Caleb, expected special treatment. 

Caleb Campbell was commissioned and signed a contract two years ago locking himself into military service, and pride for country until 2010.  He finished his officer training school and was told he would be eligible to play professional sports in accordance with the then Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Having already listened to Mike Greenberg this morning on ESPN Radio trash the issue with his self-professed ignorance it is time to set the record straight, before full-blown media hysteria takes place on how evil the military is for not letting poor Caleb play a sport. 

Giving Greenberg a pass, he said that he thought that it was because keeping Campbell active might attract recruits to join up, and increase numbers. 

Now, to correct Mike, Lt. Campbell is a Recruiting Officer – look out Berkeley!  His job is to attain quotas of enlisted men and women, go out into the public; to state parks, to malls, and most of all to high school and college campuses to much the dismay of many. They recruit others to join during a War on Terror with two fronts; Battlefronts Iraq and Afghanistan; and are demonized for it too. 

He is not any closer to going over to Afghanistan or Iraq then he is of going to start as the new quarter back for Green Bay. This is all being sold you by way of some AP reporter who doesn’t know what it means to be a soldier, other than the fact that he is a hired mercenary reporting as he is told.

He probably has a guaranteed location in the states, while others suffer what is referred to as a “Wish List.” What would those he recruited think of him while over-there listening to him play games on the Voice of America Radio while in Baghdad driving a Hum V next to Curly-Joe?

One organization really said that "the NFL draft might actually save a soldier from the war," as if he didn't volunteer at all, and had no parental guidance-or will of his own.  Did the Vietnam draft just happen again and someone forgot to tell us? Maybe that publication was thinking that a game was acutally more important than issues outside the realm of sports - real issues that impact the world, per say. 

There once used to be "community drives" in support of soldiers past, maybe we could bring those days back and start by donating some microphones to scrap for our boys over-there.

Campbell said many classmates approached him with curiosity asking why he didn’t have to serve his term out.  The fact is, regardless of him saying he could have had the best of both worlds in serving/recruiting for the Army while playing for the Detroit Lions, it is a morale issue and Caleb got too big, too fast. 

It is way too public and now all the soldiers know about it, and unless they can release all those boys who have jobs waiting at home for them, than sorry Caleb-drop your rocks and grab your socks.

Plus what if some protestor got really out of hand on 'ole Caleb?

It isn’t about his classmates.  It is about the ones he and his classmates order about on a daily basis, and sometimes to their deaths. The enlisted men are over-there sweating it out every day, stinking like pork sweats and no bath for a month, seeing no loved ones, no girlfriends, eating Meal Ready to Eat kits, not knowing how they’re families are doing, not seeing their kids and living every day under the threat of being shot, or blown up whilst being in 115 degree weather and in a perma-state of ball soup.

They serve so that their kid brothers and sisters, cousins, neighbors, or kids won’t have to do the same thing, and some get injured bad, while others don't make it out, but move on in grace.

The last thing a soldier, or the military wants to think of is how that guy is back in the states, making millions, partying with cheer-leaders (no, not ESPN reporters), playing football and traveling about the United States while they are in a place like Fallujah, or Hallabja - where there is proof of WMD's and it is just not reported.

Take it from a Veteran, this is not about NCAA rules and regulations, this is about the enlisted.  Not the officers, but the millions that serve them and thousands that die under them who need their morale to be positive and need society to be supportive, which doesn’t mean demean their service and all those dead by bringing them home from what some call a worthless war-that smarts.

The troop morale should not be undermined, especially while some say that all the Iraqi government has to do is to care for its’ people and then we can come home.  What has been going on over there for the past thousand years? It is an ongoing religious war that has roots back to the 12th century, along with having ties to Hitler.

Lion's Coach and Vietnam Veteran, Rod Marinelli, said of Campbell, "He was issued a helmet and all ready to go."  Coach would do well to recall the helmet of honor which is required of all who sign to "serve." It is what it is, an unfortunate delay of one who voluntarily made a promise - he wasn't drafted by the military.

This war is not a game and ESPN ought to take better care for those that fight and die in it. Then again, ESPN is owned by Disney who's considering a merger with CNN.  Jane Fonda was married to CNN owner Ted Turner and she was a war sympathizer, just on the wrong side. 

She actually went to Vietnam and visited the Hanoi Hilton where McCain was held prisoner for 5 long years after being shot down in a Navy Jet.  She turned troops over to the North Vietnam officers because they were trying to pass notes to her, that said thing like, "Hey, can you tell my mom I am still alive?" or "What year is it?"

These type politics are of the same mind frame that want to merge with ESPN/Walt Disney so it is consistent that they pollute the subject of soldiers voluntarily fighting for our way of life in such a poor manner.

Ms. Fonda-Turner protested openly in the US against our troops and joined John Kerry in France in support of North Vietnam cheering him on as he threw his medals away…the same medals that represent military-honor and for which millions have died, yet he just casually tossed them aside like trinkets to feed the politically starving.  It's a good thing the 60s aren't around anymore.

So maybe ESPN’s ignorance is just your typical on-the-job training of those wanting to merge with CNN's Ted Turner, which in itself is "TnT."

ABC is also partnered-up with ESPN, and is owned by Viacom who owns cable-wide networking for whom the broadcast avenue is made available to those who report "newsworthy events."  They tell us how bad or most recently successful the Bush Administration has been, but then glorify the war with shows like Generation Kill while young eyes watch in shock and awe.   

Ask a soldier how he feels if you can’t take a vets word for it.

The media’s job is to take your eye off the ball to make you forget the troubles and help you spend your money on its parent corporation and their sponsors. Happy consumers spend the most, and those that the corporations push into office give the best benefits to them.

Military Enlisted Numbers actually went up, in some cases by 156%, despite the War on Terrorism, and their Battle Fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq; and in lieu of rising death tolls, yet those at NBC and ABC report that the enlisted numbers are down.  THe military has not made some of it's current quotas because their golas are based on the previous years numbers and the highest amount of enlisted occured directly after 9.11.

Of course you will not hear that from Tom Brokaw of NBC, which is owned by GE, one of the largest of all military contractors; and polluters of the world who actually got tax breaks from the Democrat ruled Congress in 2001 to clean up the Hudson River which they polluted with PCB’s (not WMDs).  Needless to say The Sierra Club and the NY Times are not happy at all about it. 

These reporters on the war come off plainly like sympathetic humanitarians but will not report their own parent companies improprieties - which is of course hypocritical of the disingenuous pontificators.

You can visit the actual military websites "rather" than listen to glorifed boobs - at USAF, USMC, ARMY, and Navy to learn more about troop morale, Caleb Campbell and what the actual soldiers think and then you will not have to listen to what corporate reps want you to believe the soldiers think because you will know first hand, from the soldier himself.