Todd McKinley is a retired Army Veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served two Presidential Administrations (Bush #43 and Obama) as a member of the White House Communications Agency. Todd earned a Bachelor of Arts in Homeland Security from American Military University where he was subsequently invited to join The National Criminal Justice Honor Society Alpha Phi Sigma as a lifetime member. He received a Master of Science in Leadership with a Major Concentration in Global Leadership from Duquesne University, a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University and a Certificate in Leaders of Learning from Harvard University.

Values, First & Foremost

During my 20-year (and 29 days) Army career, I lived by a set of values known as the 7 Army Values which are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage and the acronym is LDRSHIP in other words Leadership which is what Veterans bring to the table. The Army’s definition of Selfless Service is self-explanatory and exemplified in nearly everyone who serves or has served and is the specific value I want to focus on. Speaking from experience, Selfless Service is especially personified by Combat Veterans of my generation who’ve fought during the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) era. Many of these Veterans have gone on to serve as First Responders or form small businesses in their communities that give back, while others have formed small local charities and, in some instances, bigger non-traditional Veterans Service Organizations and Veteran-centric companies. These organizations and companies range from service-oriented entities that directly aid Veterans, their families, and Gold Star families to coffee and clothing companies that give a percentage of their profits to Veteran causes.

GWOT Veterans are well-educated, experienced leaders who are technically proficient, and many have operated in environments that required the skills of a seasoned diplomat and they’ve done so with great success. My fellow Combat Veterans (with little exception) have always put the welfare of the nation, their branch of service and subordinates before their own. We realize that service is larger than ourselves, we do our duty and serve loyally without seeking recognition or personal gain. We constantly commit ourselves to those serving alongside us and do everything we can both physically and mentally to carry out our mission.

Gaining a Foothold

Sadly, for many of us GWOT Veterans who’ve felt compelled or called to continue our/their life of Selfless Service in elective office, we’ve found it hard to gain more than a foothold. This is attributable to many reasons, reasons that I could go into ad-nauseum. To begin with, especially for those of us who’ve spent decades in the service to our country away from home, this can affect name recognition in our home districts and raising needed funds. However, there are other reasons as well, such as the fact we can’t be co-opted by the elites or any other group bent on maintaining the status quo as our loyalties don’t lay in factions but to the nation and our fellow Americans. This creates a situation that can hinder fundraising or endorsements. Third, we focus on solving problems instead of allowing them to fester in order to play the partisan blame game come election time. In other words, we would rather see a situation be made better if only slightly vs doing nothing at all. Fourth, we have no problem in calling out those in our own party if they’re wrong while politicians will simply close ranks. Finally, with many “Swamp Dwellers” and certain organizations they would rather deal with Politicians who are more about holding elective office above serving others.

Getting Elected isn’t the Same as Representing

Conversely, what we find in large numbers in Congress are Self-Serving Politicos, ideologues and old-hand Politicians that are most often ineffective at everything except getting re-elected. These types cut across party lines and personify the definition of Self-Serving as they most often serve their own interests while disregarding the truth or the interests of others. Sadly, with Congress’ re-election rate that’s better than 90% the types that stick around are all too often the wrong types as those who are truly about serving others are busy being active in their communities putting their talents to good use instead of playing petty nonsensical games. Don’t misunderstand me, there have been and still are many in office (at various levels) who are good people that actually aim to serve others, sadly, they’re greatly outnumbered.

Finally, Quality Matters

The qualities that make Combat Veterans great Candidates are the very reasons we’re vehemently opposed by the same or similar people and groups that in 2016 opposed then Candidate Donald J. Trump. Speaking of Veterans and President Trump, we would be great allies in his mission to “Make” and “Keep America Great” all while working to “Drain the Swamp.” President Trump loves the Military and Veterans, therefore it’s a no brainer that Voters no longer must vote for the Candidate(s) that party insiders push at any level. Currently, there are very few Combat or GWOT Veterans serving in Congress, this includes those who’ve served in the Intelligence Community (IC). If you want to put “America First” while simultaneously Draining the Swamp and getting our country on track for a brighter future, simply vote for great GWOT Veterans.


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