Here's a brief summary of what we have seen and heard since we arrived here last month. Some of it is considerably different from the reporting at home:
There is an overwhelming sense of disappointment at the lack of attention being paid to America's longest war by the presidential campaigns. Over a cup of coffee, I asked a senior staff noncommissioned officer for his opinion. He's on his fifth combat tour since 9/11, three times here and twice to Iraq, where he was wounded by enemy fire. His assessment: "Early on, people cared. But now, the only people who even know about us being over here are our families. You're the first news team we've seen on this deployment. The press doesn't even mention us except when something bad happens, and our politicians don't acknowledge us at all. We came back here last spring at the beginning of fighting season. Some of us will be home for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, we will all be home for Christmas. I hope the election changes things. This war shouldn't end like yours."
And then there is the matter of whether military personnel overseas are able to cast absentee ballots. We asked nearly 700 members of the U.S. armed forces about any problems encountered in getting or casting a ballot. Only four said they had experienced any problems whatsoever.
One of the Marines put it this way: "When the company first sergeant says 'give blood,' we line up to give blood. When he tells us to sign up for an allotment to support the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society or Toys for Tots, we do it. When he tells us to register to vote, we do that, too. We're not stupid."
All true. There may be fewer brave young Americans serving in this difficult and dangerous place than the most recent time we were here, but those who volunteered to come here still inspire me. I hope they will inspire you, too -- even if you don't have a first sergeant.
Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "Heroes Proved." Join Oliver North in Israel by going to http://www.olivernorthisrael.com. To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.