Ted Opper, 39, retired from the U.S. Army in April 2000 after 16 years. A sergeant first class, he switched to full-time National Guard duty in 1998 and worked for a time as guard recruiter. Opper is now a recruiter for the Georgia Department of Corrections in Atlanta.
Of all things that I could attribute to the Clinton administration, [one of the most important] was the increased deployments. Having spent time as a recruiter, I can tell you that was a significant reason for increased attrition rates. That's the reason I switched over to full-time National Guard. I [came] back from Korea, spent about two years in Atlanta, and then got orders to go to Bosnia. It was just too much time away from home, away from your family.
The Regular Army is losing a lot of good folks, and they're just getting burned out on the increased tempo, the increased pace. It's just impossible for the Army to compensate for that. They can give you extra money. They can do certain things to make things a little bit more comfortable. But it's just too big of a load to try to overcome -- to rectify the morale problem which results from that. One of the big things I saw [was] a drop in overall morale. And if you want to talk directly attributable, I say [it was] due to increased deployments.
As a military person you're held to a much higher standard in your behavior than the commander in chief has been. If a soldier had done some of the things that President Clinton was accused of, then it would have been probably Leavenworth [military prison] in a lot of instances -- or at least being discharged. Your punishment would be a lot greater than what he experienced.
A leader is supposed to set the example. Commanders had to somehow explain this away. A lot of them didn't want to, and they'd just say [to their soldiers], "Well, you're just held to a higher standard and that's all there is to it."
I'd say you [have seen] a lot of degradation of integrity [in the country over the past eight years]. Again, that's from me and my perspective of being in the military. The integrity thing is valued a little bit higher in the military than it is in civilian life. It has to be -- simply because of the nature of the work -- because it can turn into a deadly business. Being accurate and being truthful can cause people to live or die. I would say the overall fallout from that, because the military is a cross-mix of society just like any other organization, it's going to trickle down to it, and [it's] going to [have] a negative impact.
I don't have a very high opinion of [Clinton]. He's probably one of the best politicians that you could ever see. He could get a lot of things done. But as far as [my] views on how things should be, I don't see eye-to-eye with that man at all.
Another thing is, especially being in the military, it doesn't matter really what you think of the person -- you had to respect him because of the office. It's like being in the military, when you salute an officer. You're not saluting the man or the woman, you're saluting the rank. And the respect is due the rank.
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