In recent months there has been talk across the Army that the Department of Defense intends to reduce the number of soldiers serving in the Army. First sergeants, command sergeant majors, commanders and leaders across the Army have been using this rumor as a “scare tactic” for at-risk soldiers during their weekly safety briefings and end-of-day formations. I charge the Army’s leaders to quit with the scare tactics, take action and literally trim the fat.

We have all seen the “Army Strong demotivators” that depict a severely overweight soldier in various Army uniforms. We laugh and joke and say things like, “He’s probably some reservist.” but the truth is he or she could very well be an active-duty soldier. There are countless overweight soldiers spread throughout the Army and the time has come to restore the integrity of the American soldier. It is up to us, the leaders of this great Army, to say enough is enough.

Stop with the excuses like, “He’s a hard worker.” Standards are in place and it is long overdue for us to stop picking and choosing which ones we want to follow. This isn’t just for overweight soldiers; this is for all soldiers with no business in the Army. Soldiers with multiple drug offenses, countless Article 15s and those who refuse to convert to the Army way of life.

Let’s take a hard look around us. We as leaders have an obligation to not only adhere to Army standards, but to strive to make a stronger, better Army, an Army that we can continue to take pride in. We are a generation of war veterans; the American public takes great pride in the American soldier because of what we represent. Let’s restore that image within our ranks and trim the fat.

Staff Sgt. Miguel Chavez

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Can sympathize with author

This in response to the Nov. 25 column “The saddest words I heard in Iraq” by Maj. Jodi Jones Smith.

I am a Department of the Army civilian and am in a deployable job. During my second deployment, my son was killed in a car accident at home. I was within just five days of returning home. This is something I do not believe that a father ever gets over. My son and I had worked for seven years to build an auto-repair shop that we had planned to open very soon. I wanted to get the shop built so we would not have any overhead when we finally got started. My son and I had gotten very close and now I do not even have the willpower to think about ever opening a shop.

This loss was so hurtful that I ended up selling my boat that my son and I enjoyed fishing in, my house and the shop and then I moved. I am in my fourth deployment now, but it is almost unbearable when Nov. 6 (the date of my son’s death) and Jan. 18 (his birthday) come around. My son left behind a grandson that my wife and I have adopted. This grandchild is what sustains me now.

I know what the major is going through and pray that no father ever has to endure losing a son or daughter.

Paul Edward Creek

Kandahar, Afghanistan

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