Heroes are still made, every day

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Not everyone is a hero.

The case of Devin Kelley is coming under intense scrutiny across the nation this week. Many are questioning how an airman convicted of domestic violence
against his wife and kids, sentenced to 12 months confinement at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California, then released with a Bad Conduct Discharge could legally get his hands on firearms.

That’s a legitimate question, one that Defense Department officials are seeking to answer. Maybe part of the answer lies in the mystique we have effectively painted about the military.

Two weekends ago my family and I traveled to the Ark Encounter with my wife’s mother who was visiting us from New Mexico. None of us had seen it and when you grow up reading and hearing in church about Noah and the ark, it’s natural to want to see a real-life replica of it.

We purchased two rooms in a hotel nearby. My wife and I and our youngest stayed with us in one room, our oldest and my mother-in-law had the other room. One of her room “keys” quit working so I agreed to take it to the front desk and get it reset.

The front desk attendant was very obliging when I told him about the key.

“I think the name on that room is either my wife’s or my mother-in-law’s,” I explained.

I was wrong on both counts. The room was booked under my father-in-law’s name. A completely different last name from mine and a different first name than I had given.

The reason he so eagerly complied and rekeyed the card?

“No problem. You are a military veteran,” he said. “I know you would never lie. The U.S. military can’t lie to us.”

I had offered to show my ID and even asked him to call up to the room to verify that I was legitimate. He declined both, simply seeing my cap that identified me as a combat veteran. Anybody can buy those.

The horrific killing of Texas church goers by Kelley, and even the case of convicted deserter Bowe Bergdahl, brings home the reality that many Americans, and even some from other countries, look to us as the standard bearers for what right looks like. Many trust our word as gold.

As we celebrate Veterans Day and enjoy all the military discounts, the praise, the pats on the back, the many thank you’s from total strangers, people see our values in action.

Be the hero the Army has invested in.