|Paratrooper Mark Christianson, Veteran of the 82nd Airborne Association, the Gulf War and webmaster of Paratrooper.net
General Eric Shinseki
Chief of Staff, United States Army
Washington, DC 20310-0200
Dear General Shinseki:
On behalf of myself as a former member of the 82nd Airborne Division as well as the worldwide members of Paratrooper.net I would like to take this opportunity to let you know what a disservice you are doing if you continue on this track of changing the Army headgear to the black beret.
The honorable, hard fighting, elite soldiers of the Army will have one less item that gives them the distinctiveness and pride that goes with doing what others will not do. To lessen the Rangers by giving all members of the Army the same headgear is nothing short of an outrage.
We continually hear about morale and its impact on retention, yet it is decisions like this that will both lessen the opinion and numbers of individuals staying in the military.
How many young people today can identify the elite units by the distinctive beret! Most, if unable to know what they mean, at least know this is someone to respect. If this change takes place, then you take that away.
Please feel free to drop by my website and then check out the discussion on the subject from the very soldiers you are affecting. If you still feel the need to go through with this then please let us know what gain this will garner. In a time of substandard pay, benefits and housing it is ill conceived to do something like spend time and money on things such as headgear. How much money and resources will this take? How about repairing housing areas or any of the many shortfalls our Army suffers at this moment. Remember, you need all the soldiers you can get and this isn't going to impress anyone.
I welcome any rebuttal, and would be happy to have your response on paratrooper.net if you feel your position can be justified to the men and women who earned the right and honor of wearing a beret. To us, its not just a hat, its a symbol of the sacrifices we have made to elevate ourselves to something more than your average soldier.
The Website is at http://www.paratrooper.net/ and the discussion on this subject can be found at http://www.paratrooper.net/aotw/commo/link.asp?TOPIC_ID=150
Mark T. Christianson
82nd Airborne Division
Gulf War Veteran
Webmaster of Paratrooper.net