“As the POW/MIA flag flies over the White House today, it is a reminder that this administration will never forget its commitment to care for our service members and their families” – Tanya Bradsher, Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. She serves as the lead for Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Military Family Outreach.
“83,000 are still MIA from World War II to invasion of Iraq”, a headline in the October 6, 2013 edition of the Austin American Statesman, was a stark reminder to all veterans of our brothers and sisters who are Missing In Action (MIA). The story is how Politifact investigated a statement by John Scocos, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, after he said, “There are still tens of thousands of missing service members from previous and current conflicts that our nation is working to find and repatriate" As Politifact reported, “We rate this statement (100%) True”.
Their investigation started with the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), which is the "largest central resource for DoD and government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information available today”. All MIA data is kept current, overseen and managed by the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO).
83,309 is the current number of MIA data and its broken down as follows: WWII: 73,640; Korean War: 7,894; Cold War: 126; Vietnam War: 1,643; and Iraq & Other Conflict: 6. Even today, MIA soldiers are still being located and their remains returned to the U.S. And the POW/MIA Flag is featured across the country after Congress designated the third Friday of September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
The Defense Technical Information Center also reminds us that "Keeping the Promise", "Fulfill their Trust" and "No one left behind" are just a few of the mottos referring to the Department of Defense’ efforts to recover military personnel who went missing while serving our country.
However, we are still faced with the ongoing saga of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was seized in Afghanistan in June, 2009 by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network. U.S. government officials, who believe he is being held captive in Pakistan, have been negotiating for his release. A Pentagon spokesman said, "Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been gone far too long, and we continue to call for and work toward his safe and immediate release.”
It is even more painful when a video appeared in January, 2014, which verified Bergdahl was still alive, but in “diminished health” after almost five years in captivity. The words from NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ Rule #5, come to mind: “You don't waste good”.
Veterans will say, look, the Department of Defense and the State Department have obviously not been ‘keeping the promise” they made to the American people because one soldier continues to be “left behind”. Indeed, their promise seems to no longer be “front and center” to them because they have failed thus far in negotiating the release of Sgt. Bergdahl. So, if we can find and kill bin Laden in Pakistan, why can’t we find and rescue Sgt. Bergdahl?
It sounds to us like one more trip to Pakistan by our Navy SEALs is long overdue. And to this, Gibbs would say, “Oorah”!