Like most Americans, I am disgusted with the gridlock in Washington, perpetuated by the pettiness of politicians that seem perfectly happy to destroy the middle class of America, in order to further their own agenda at the cost of the welfare of the American people. With the exception of presidential races, I must admit that I have not paid a lot of attention to politics, outside of my own state, until now.
After the release of a VoteVets ad by Vietnam Veteran, Charles Erwin, accusing Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell of failing veterans by blocking $21 Billion in funding for veterans, my curiosity inspired me to research McConnell (i.e. military service, voting record, etc.). I began my search with military service records, and discovered multiple layers of murky possible scenarios that opened up like a set of Chinese boxes. Mitch McConnell’s military record has been under question for decades. He allegedly enlisted in the Army Reserve (or the Enlisted Reserve, as it was referred to in 1967, and as I recall, difficult to get into. It usually required knowing someone with influence, like having a Congressman or Senator write a letter for you) in July 1967.
While McConnell was still in boot camp at Fort Knox, as a member of the 100th Division of the U.S. Army Reserve, Maj. Gen. A.D. Surles, commanding general at Fort Knox, received a letter (and several telephone calls) from U.S. Senator John Sherman Cooper (McConnell was an intern in Cooper’s Washington D.C. office in the summer of 1964), dated August 10, 1967, advising the Major General that “Mitchell anxious to clear post in order to enroll NYU. Please advise when final action can be expected.” (According to the NYU Registrar’s office, McConnell never applied for, nor attended any classes at NYU. In fact, he already held a law degree from UK in 1967, prior to enlistment in the Army Reserve).
McConnell’s former Chief of Staff, Hunter Bates, told the Herald-Leader that Cooper wrote that letter to “expedite a discharge” at the request of McConnell’s father after the Army informed McConnell his condition was grounds for leaving the military.
At that time, McConnell’s Army Reserve Unit was serving its’ summer active duty at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Normal military procedure would have required that McConnell transfer from the training unit back to the Army Reserve Unit, prior to release. However, McConnell was released from military service directly from the training unit by the Commanding General of Fort Knox. This violation of procedure would only have occurred under the most critical circumstances. Remember, this was at the height of the Vietnam War, and it was just not that easy to avoid service….unless, of course, you knew the ‘right people’.
There have been conflicting explanations for McConnell’s release from military service. Robert Steurer, a press secretary for McConnell in Washington, was reported to have said that McConnell never served in the Armed Services. One ‘official’ reason given for McConnell’s discharge is a diagnosis of optic neuritis ,even though McConnell apparently never had a physical exam, a condition easily cured by steroid treatments in 1967, and not a valid reason for discharge, in itself.
One ‘unofficial’ account, was given by Alan Lynch, a Lexington Postal Clerk, who served with the 100th Training Unit Army Reserve in Louisville, Kentucky in the summer of 1967. Lynch worked for a Major who was the assistant Adjutant in S-1, the administrative section of the unit. The Major told him that a new member of the unit had been arrested in the barracks for sodomy, and the guy was getting out of the service under the medical excuse of an eye disorder because the soldier had served as an intern to Senator John Sherman Cooper, and Senator Cooper called the Commanding General of Fort Knox to arrange the discharge.
I cannot find any indication that Mitch McConnell has attempted to sue Alan Lynch for libel, and in spite of years of rumor and requests for McConnell’s service records, he has refused to make them public. I can only speculate as to why.
On a personal note, I don’t care about Mitch McConnell’s sexual preferences, even though he is publicly homophobic (but then, many closeted gays are that way). I don’t care that he used his political connections to evade going to war. But, like the gay that is homophobic, I can’t help wondering if Mitch hates veterans because they went to war, in spite of their fear…leaving Mitch to privately question his own manhood….and feeling the need to punish veterans. That is something I care about.