Rep. Allen Freeman (R-Macon) is in trouble with a veteran for misleading voters about his own military service, and this is not the first time. In today's Telegraph, a local veteran, Jerry Fincher, calls Freeman's hand for a misleading campaign mailer that he says implies Freeman was deployed to the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. He was not. He was in the National Guard but did not go to the region. The mailer says that Freeman is a "decorated veteran of Operation Desert Storm" and includes a photograph of him in uniform in the desert-the California desert. It's printed on the picture, if you look closely. Most people do not look closely-most spend less than 20 seconds looking at a piece of campaign mail.
As I said, this is not Freeman's first trip around this rose bush. I recall seeing the exactly same picture-or one very, very similar-in his campaign material before. I believe that it was during the 2004 cycle, and he drew very similar criticism. It seems that either he did not learn, or he decided the potential political benefit was worth the risk.
Frankly, I have never understood his approach on this issue. It just makes no sense. Serving in the National guard is an honorable thing to do, but it's not honorable to fuzzy-up the truth about what the service included. Why not just be proud enough of what you did to be completely clear about it?
What's the truth? This is what I found, and much of it is from his own biography. After high school, Freeman initially attended North Georgia Military College and then attended Georgia Southern. Freeman served in the Georgia Army National Guard from 1988 until 1993, the same year he graduated from Georgia Southern. According to his "Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty" he had "Foreign Service...0 Years, 0 Months, 0 Days" and "Sea Service...0 Years, O Months, 0 Days. Freeman was a Medical Supply Specialist and his highest ranking was Private First Class.
His claims of being a "decorated" "veteran of Operation Desert Storm" are misleading. He was never deployed to the Middle East, or anywhere else out of the country. He did receive two ribbons: the Army Service Ribbon, a ribbon given to any member of the U.S. Army, including ROTC or the Army National Guard, who complete initial entry training-as in, basic training. He also received the National Defense Service Medal. According to Wikipedia:
The National Defense Service Medal is awarded to anyone who serves on active duty in the United States military during the above time periods. For service in the Gulf War and War on Terrorism, it is also authorized for members of the Reserves or National Guard ordered to active duty or who are performing "reserve service in good standing" which normally translates as regular attendance at monthly drills and performance in yearly training.
Fincher also takes issue with Freeman's claim in the mailer that he "stood up" to members of his own party regarding the War Veteran's Home closure. Freeman claims to have called the Governor to "protest how the matter was handled." Call the Governor? He couldn't even call a press conference, and we know he knows how to call a press conference for really important things, like attacking his opponent. Now, he wants the vets there to just be happy that they won't be homeless before Christmas. Maybe he figures that in 2009, this is going to be someone else's problem, and the way this race is shaping up, he might be just about right about that. Sphere: Related Content