Military Relations

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Keynote speaker Sylinthia Burges
Keynote speaker Sylinthia Burges

I recently had the honor of attending South Floral Park’s 26th Annual Armed Forces Day. The keynote speaker was Army veteran Sylinthia Burges, who is the founder of Women In the Military, Inc. and an active contributor to the Veterans Affairs in Nassau County and the PFC Dwyer/Vet2vet programs. The proud daughter of a Vietnam veteran and wife to an Iraq veteran, she made a lot of salient points in her comments. One of the most striking was an anecdote Burges shared about how her daughter’s experience attending a new school and the questions these new peers were asking about being a military child. She was surprised at the lack of knowledge that her classmates had about the armed forces or how being unaware that those who serve give all Americans the ability to enjoy the freedom to do the things they take for granted. Is it any wonder given the fact that according to the Department of Defense, less than .5 percent of the population serves in the armed forces compared with more than 12 percent during World War II? Or that most Americans don’t realize that our troops are involved in five separate ongoing military actions? The major disconnect here is a lack of civic obligation and while I’m not advocating for the return of the draft lottery, at minimum, I think we should take a page out of Israel’s book with slight modifications. Rather than have two years of mandatory military service, instead there should be some kind of two-year monthly program in place that requires citizens to volunteer working with veterans and Wounded Warrior groups or visiting the VA. It’s the kind of first-hand experience that would give Americans, particularly the younger generation, better insight into the types of sacrifices being made by our troops on a daily basis.
—Dave Gil de Rubio

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In addition to being editor of Garden City Life and Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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