Higbie showed us his true colors. Let's treat vets like people, not demi-gods

Matt Saintsing
January 19, 2018 - 4:11 pm

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelsey Adams/DVIDS


Former Navy SEAL, and Trump administration appointee, Carl Higbie resigned Thursday, as chief of external affairs for the federal government’s volunteer service organization after a CNN KFile investigation brought racist, sexist, ant-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments from 2013 to light.

He also disparaged veterans and military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress as having “a weak mind,” and suggested the vast majority of those afflicted were lying to get federal money.

He resigned “effective immediately,” according to a statement, and in a tweet Friday morning, Higbie apologized for his comments.

Higbie’s comments elucidate a simple truth that many Americans seemingly forget—veterans are human, flawed individuals and placing us on a pedestal doesn’t help anyone, especially us.

In generations past, we saw service members as ordinary human beings who, at times, may have done extraordinary things. Today, from boarding a plane, to beer commercials, veterans are viewed as demi-gods who are complete manifestations of honor, heroism, and integrity.

That distracts from actually helping those who've served.

Some are absolutely heroes—true heroes—not because of their chosen military careers, but because of their personal acts that go well above and beyond the call of duty. That’s why we have awards, some noted with a “V” device for valor, to celebrate, and in some small way, thank them for their selfless service and sacrifice.

But, that isn’t implicit if you chose to serve in the military.

We’re quick to notice that a well-tailored, expensive suit on Wall Street doesn’t always translate to honesty, just as we know that being a member of Congress doesn’t mean you always have the country's best interests in mind.

Yet, we blindly believe that the military uniform automatically raises its wearer to virtuous status. Military service doesn’t automatically turn one into a better, more selfless person, Higbie proved that.

To admire those who have performed acts of selfless bravery is not only justified, it is a sacred duty we have. Not all heroes are eager to take center stage before thousands of fellow Americans, and accept the honor they rightfully deserve.

Higbie very well could be one of those heroes. He joined the Navy and became a SEAL in 2005, knowing very well that he would most certainly be deployed and in harm’s way.

But if his comments show us anything, it’s that he isn’t a giant that protects and defends our society, we know that at one time he had hate in his heart towards his fellow Americans, and was fully upfront about it publicly.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t revere and thank those who volunteer to serve our country in a time of war, but if we recognize veterans as humans, we’ll break away those who seek to exploit the service and sacrifice of so many for political and financial gain.

Unemployment, mental illness, homelessness, addiction, and suicide among our veterans should constitute a national disgrace, and we should move heaven and earth to diminish these problems to the extent possible.

But, it’s far easier to spend a few seconds clapping someone in uniform, and placing them on a pedestal, than to think about how we can all do better.