In just a short couple of weeks, John Kerry and his staff will “bid farewell to Setti Warren, the deputy director of his Massachusetts office.” Warren is headed to Iraq, is “leaving to spend the next year in Iraq as a Navy intelligence officer.”
Peter Gelzinis reports in the Boston Herald and catches perfectly the relationship between Kerry and Warren:
Warren, 37, is just the latest in a long line of Kerry staffers who are presently stationed, or have served, in Iraq. Kerry’s scheduler, Jackie Kohn, is on the front lines for the second time, serving in a combat support hospital unit.
Brady Van Engelen, Kerry’s adviser on veterans affairs, was a platoon leader with the “Tombraiders” of the 1st Armored Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart and spent the better part of a year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center coming back from a head wound.
At a time when we tend to reach for the nearest stereotype and hide behind red or blue banners, Setti Warren goes off to war calling his boss, an impassioned critic of the current strategy in Iraq, “a true patriot.”
“He’s let me know how proud he is of what I’m doing,” said Warren, who joined the Naval Reserve back in 2003, about the same time he signed on as a trip director with the Kerry for President campaign.
Describing his reasons for enlisting, Warren tells Gelzinis:
“In the course of those journeys across New Hampshire and Iowa and the other campaign states,” Warren said, “I saw the fundamental connection he had to this country through his military service as well as his public service, and it mirrored how I felt. Being able to work for him was a kind of perfect match.
“There is also a family history of service,” Warren noted. “My father served in Korea with the Air Force and then spent almost 20 years as a commander in the Naval Reserves. And my grandfather fought at the Battle of the Bulge with the Army.”
With a hint of snark, Gelzinis reminds his readers that Kerry is by no means, what those “who were “too busy” to put on a uniform” have “branded” him:
For his part, Kerry said he told his deputy director that regardless of how one felt about the war, this was a rare moment to serve our country, to wear the uniform and stand with your brothers and put yourself to the greatest test of sacrifice and commitment.
“The experience is something that stays with you the rest of your life,” Kerry said. “It hones your leadership skills as well as grounding you in all the things that are real and true. I am very proud of Setti, as I am of all the people who’ve worked for me and served both in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
This is not what a “blue” senator is supposed to say, unless the senator in question spent a little time running through the deltas of Vietnam.
Gosh, it seems like only yesterday that John Kerry saw his Vietnam combat service “swift-boated” at the direction of people who were “too busy” to put on a uniform. They are the same people who take every opportunity to brand him as a cut-and-run Democrat.
They are the ones who cheer Mitt Romney’s war cry, while paying no attention to the valiant struggle the five fightin’ Romney boys are now waging against those evil fireflies and gnats that plague their Winnebago across the Iowa cornfields.
Hopefully, when Setti Warren comes home just before the next presidential election, he will return with something more than opinions. He’ll bring back wisdom born of experience.
“I’ve asked everyone who’s worked for me and served in Iraq what they thought when they got home,” Kerry said. “I’d be crazy not to look to their opinions of the situation. All of them remain fiercely loyal to, and proud of, the troops they served with. And each and every one has said they wanted their service to have meant something, and not to have been in vain.”
It is no different with Setti Warren. “I have so much respect for all the staff members who’ve served or are still serving over there now,” he said. “Being able to serve the country in this way is something I consider a great privilege.”
On a personal note, having had the opportunity to meet Setti Warren on many occassions during the ’04 election cycle, I wish him the best of luck as he heads off to serve our nation. As Rush Limbaugh and the wingnuts continue to smear veteran’s who are against the war, Setti Warren proves that an indivual can serve our nation in the military, while not being a supporter of Bush’s war.
Thank you Setti for your service. Return safely, your co-workers and boss will miss you.