He Said, She Said: Soldier upsets Family by displaying loyalty to leader Print E-mail
Thursday, 12 November 2015
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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I am a Soldier. Have been a Soldier for more than 15 years and will continue to be a Soldier, but recently an event in my house really made me realize a significant difference between civilians and service members.

My parents and my wife’s parents were in town and at our home for my son’s graduation. At a dinner at our home, the topic became the presidential race and the current state of affairs within our federal government. Now both my father and my father-in-law are pretty conservative men and they wanted my opinion of the president. I merely replied, “he’s the commander in chief” and nothing more. They pressed me for negatives and I just smiled. I wasn’t about to bash the top of my chain of command.

To me, it’s unprofessional. I can agree or disagree with policies of our current executive branch, but as a professional Soldier, I feel those thoughts are best kept within one’s self. My father and father-in-law seem to disagree…very strongly. The sad part is, despite trying to explain my professionalism, I would get comments such as “We would ask you where to eat around here, but I doubt you have an opinion” and “so how long have you been a communist?” I want to put them in their place without hurting the feelings of two men whom I love, trust and respect. Any ideas?

HE SAID:  It amazes me how many people form an opinion early in life, then never challenge their beliefs or wonder what the other side is really saying, they merely dismiss others opinions as soon as they think they disagree.  

The other thing that truly amazes me, is when I sit down to have a meaningful discussion with people with divergent ideas, I walk away feeling more enriched and hope the other person feels the same way. We should all want to better understand the views of those around us, but all we really seem to be concerned with is making sure everyone hears what we think. If more people would stop listening to the opinions of others through the filter of stated party affiliation, and simply listen to the ideas, they might actually find out how much they agree on.  

Until someone tells you which party they affiliate themselves with you may love them, then all the sudden they annoy you and are an idiot, simply because they were likely raised with different affiliations. That’s a head scratcher … how do we ever solve problems if we don’t have the facts as seen by all sides?  

As for you, you can claim the high moral ground (under the auspices of professionalism), but I strongly suspect you’ve shared political  opinions while in service, you were just ducking out of a brawl (and wisely considering the conditions) — why don’t you try modeling a true discussion rather than an insult contest?  

Everyone might walk away from each discussion a little wiser, those who cannot … well, they never will grow; they will just get more bitter and nastier as time goes by, but they will never get out of their own way to form an opinion based on relevant facts, and will stick to the one they have held their entire lives.

SHE SAID:  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.”  The failures of our administration do not fall on the lap of one individual. If they want to discuss the current state of affairs, tell them you are on board with that. If they want to bash your boss, tell them as much as they believe he has done to damage this country, it really takes an entire government to do so. If they want to discuss the events that have led to our current situation, you are more than happy to do so, but only small minds sit around and talk about other people; it’s short sighted, and juvenile.  

I know you love, trust and respect them for who they are, but they should respect you, too. You are a grown man with a profession, a calling that asks you to show a level of loyalty to the leader of the free world. Whether you agree with him or not, it’s not the person but the position and you will respect it because it’s what you do.  You’re proud to do so because you are proud to be a Soldier.  I say good for you.    

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 November 2015 )