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Former White House Chief of Staff and Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus was recently sworn in as an ensign in the Naval Reserve at the age of 47.
There are undoubtedly many who will dismiss this as a stunt. The U.S. military is consistently one of the most trusted institutions in America. As a career politico, Priebus could certainly use the halo effect of military service going forward. Based on his history, there's little doubt he'll pursue another high office, whether elected or appointed.
There's certainly some level of self-interest involved. For all the bluster vets have about selfless service, almost everyone who's joined had at least some amount of selfishness involved. Whether it's college money, bonus money, learning a skill, or learning self-discipline, everyone joins looking to get something out of it.
Very few, if any, service members are solely doing it out of love of country and expecting nothing in return. Priebus, to the extent he may be doing this for selfish reasons, is not much different than anyone else joining the military — it's just that instead of looking to learn diesel engine repair to get a job at a truck stop, he's building a service history to help his future run for governor or senator.
Just because he's playing at a higher level is no reason to hate on him.
Navy SEAL Turned Congressional Candidate Under Fire For Stating Prior Service Should Be Required To Run For Office
Former Navy SEAL Josh Butner is under fire for comments he made taking a shot at his Democratic opponent for Congress, saying, “It should be a requirement to have served to even run.”
Any veteran who honorably finishes a term of military service, be that for four years or 20, has paid his or her dues to the country. In spite of this, many veterans, myself included, still find themselves in a public service job in some capacity. While many vets would prefer to never see the inside of a government building ever again, there are some compelling reasons to consider a job in government, be that federal, state, or local.
“Military veteran” is one of the few terms — and experiences — that binds people from different backgrounds who don’t know one another. The question, “Where’d you serve,” is a social level-setter, and points to something much deeper than being alumni of the same school or having grown up in the same hometown. It’s such a strong bond, in fact, that many military vets have trouble connecting with people who haven’t had that experience.