I find it necessary to respond to a recent letter that illustrated in a hypothetical scenario as to how a possible base base closing would affect the “non-military minority” economically. This hypothetical tale being told shortly before Halloween should have been appropriate at a time of the season we like to scare each other for the fun of it. Unfortunately rather than a well-conceived scary Halloween tale I found this letter divisive in nature either driven by emotions of the moment or by design.
I truly hope the letter writer’s comments were driven by emotions due to recent events revolving around the Naval aircraft noise controversy. Citing a locally published vague statistic of a 60 percent population connection to the local base the letter writer appears to assign greater importance to this 60 percent group over folks she makes reference to as the “non-military minority.” The writer also appears to assume the 60 percent group is all military in nature with emphasis placed on military retirees.
Military retirees are military personnel along with family members who, after closing out successful service careers, are said to have transitioned back into civilian life. As exemplified by Ms. Mellow’s letter and her 38 years experience as a military spouse, the transition is never truly complete.
We military retirees walk at times a difficult fence between two worlds during times of civilian military publicized controversy. But one thing does not change, we are no more important than our fellow citizens, our neighbors who have not served in the military. As I stated previously, I suspect recent events revolving around Naval aircraft noise was the driving force behind her letter. Unfortunately those noise events appear to be developing a us versus them mentality between our civilian and military members in our island community. The letter writer may have just reinforced that developing mentality with her chosen words. Unfortunate is not a strong enough word to express my concern for this development.
One last comment. If anyone has been paying attention to international news during this season of political discontent, Naval Air Station Whidbey is not going to close any time in the near future, if ever. In fact NAS Whidbey is becoming strategically more important daily due to ever changing developments in the far east. The Chinese military can no longer be referred to as a hand-me-down military. The Chinese military has been developing into a first-rate world power to be paid attention to. The tempo of base operations is only going to increase in the future whereby the impact of noise on surrounding communities must be mitigated a much as operationally possible but also accepted as a way of life here by folks in those impacted communities.
For all practical purposes folks, we are all in the same boat but we need to get back to working the oars together, otherwise the rocks win.
Thomas F. Strang