COMMENTARY: Bosnian conflict screams for sensitivity

by Sgt. Danita J. Brown, Stuttgart
Citizen (Jan. 24, 1996)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Army News Service) -- The time comes in everyone's life to take a stand for our values and beliefs. Should any man, woman or child be stripped of their religion, home, livelihood, or even worse, life at the hands of another?

To find the answer, we should look deep into our hearts and examine our own existence. What drives us to choose one thing over another good over bad? And what makes us take a firm stand?

Reflecting back on my life, I was always laid back, and as a growing child, in one word, passive. It didn't bother me much that other children played jokes on me the first day of school, or that others didn't like me for whatever reason. Though I cannot begin to recall the number of times I fought back tears of anger and also sadness, I knew that in the end, none of those things would ever matter. It wasn't until I witnessed firsthand, the selfless cruelty against a child who stood helpless and unable to defend himself against harm, that I finally took my first stand.

For months, we have watched the events in Bosnia unfold. And for some time, our president had a grave decision to make. He made that decision before the close of 1995. Now in 1996, soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines active and reserve and civilians are heading to far off places. For some servicemembers, this is a welcomed mission in support of their country's interests. Many others have expressed their resentment.

While leaving family members behind or going to face unknown challenges, maybe even harm, are all things that most people despise, it's a commitment many of us made when we first signed the dotted line to join the military force.

When we first came into the military, we knew that there was always a slight possibility of deployment and facing unknown dangers. Today, as the world continues to change and the United States is much more involved in world affairs as peacekeepers, it's not at all uncommon. In fact, deployment has become a household word. The possibility of having to deploy is much greater in these times. When I entered active duty, deployment was not on my mind, but I know that if I was considering joining today, that probability would unmistakably be a contributing factor to making that choice. Facing that, I know I would still have made the decision to join.

The big picture is that the military does make a stand for things that many of us believe in. And if I was called to go, I would not go because I was told that I had to, but because I believe in helping others and preserving the American tradition. For the last month, I have heard others griping about the U.S. forces taking part in the Bosnian conflict. Questions raised amongst associates were why are we spending so much money helping another country when we can't even help ourselves and set up our own budget? Why are we helping them, when there are people in the States who don't have a place to lay their head at night? Why are we aiding others when we risk the lives of servicemembers and civilians? These are all good questions raised by good people. But instead of asking why, try asking why not.

What it all boils down to is you. Are you the kind of person who will sit idly by while your brother or sister screams out for help? Or are you the type of person who will roll up your sleeves and dig in? For me, it would be a small sacrifice to make. One I would make for my blood relatives grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers and even for the man who sits helpless at the mercy of an uncaring other. Would you?