Veteran Service Organizations- A Question of Legitimacy Essay

Veteran Service Organizations- A Question of Legitimacy Essay

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Americans are deeply divided politically and the recent gridlock in Congress has highlighted the public distrust of the Federal Government. While Congress’ approval rating has remained barely above a dismal 10 percent , one specific federal institution has remained above the fray. Regardless of the political bantering that is occurring on Capital Hill, the United States Military has remained the most trusted institution in the nation. Many experts have argued this phenomenon is due to the apolitical nature of the military.
Due to the prestige of the military and those who have served within, their endorsements are a premium on Capital Hill. One could assume that lawmakers believe that if the military endorses a particular piece of legislation, it therefore has increased credibility. However, due to the apolitical nature of the military it is socially unacceptable for current service-members to give such an endorsement. Herein lies the paradox of prestige. This paradox plays an important role as prestige is gained from remaining neutral in a highly politicized system. This neutrality has opened the door for advocacy groups to speak on their behalf. Allowing these organizations to use the military’s prestige to support their own political agendas.
There are currently over 117 different service organizations that represent the interests of military services and their veterans , all claiming legitimacy to utilize the military’s prestige to further their agendas in the name of their members. However, some veteran service organizations may not necessarily speak on behalf of the constituents they claim to represent. Rather they use the veteran voice as a platform to pursue their own policy agendas.
For many Americans as well as me...

... middle of paper ...

...has been abused by Congress and is misleading to the general population. The paradox of prestige has allowed this organization to irresponsibly use the credibility of the most trusted institution in the country for their own agenda. This phenomenon has the potential to tarnish the prestige gained by the military.
Secretary Shinseki highlights VSO legitimacy through the lens of selfless service. IAVA’s policy priorities are not founded to give a voice to those veterans without one, rather they speak for themselves on behalf of the current generation of war veterans. In the future, Congress must evaluate the internal policy process of organizations and question the legitimacy of those claiming to represent others. If Congress does not begin to evaluate the measures of legitimacy, they will be misled into a direction provided not by the masses, but by a select few.

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