To dater there have been NO veterans of Korea or Vietnam elected to the White House. We've had Generals, Colonels, Commanders, hell even Lieutenants elected president, from almost every period of service, except for the past 60 years or so. We've had Truman from WWI, Eisenhower, to Ford were all WWII vets, As were Regan and Bush Sr. What does that leave us? A group of elder statesmen left over from the last "respectable" war America has fought?
The problem with Army and Marine Veterans of Korea, is that they are caught in that stage between WWII and Vietnam. We start to see one kind of battle fought with weapons both new and old, but in look, and feel it had far too much in common with WWI and WWII to be taken seriously. John Glen was perhaps one of the most respected statesmen from this period, and as far I know he never had aspirations of becoming president.
And then there's Vietnam. Veterans of this era, are perhaps as sharply divided as the country was. You have some that turned their back on their service and those that served (John Kerry) and you have those that continued to bare true faith and alleged to the causes they enlisted for. Even till today the country does not have enough distance from that painful time to really judge the events and a clear context. In recent years, people have taken a closer look at this war, and they can start to see the victories as well as the defeats. They can begin to honor the courage involved, and in this small way the betrayals of the public are lessened.
But, sadly I think that John McCain was the last Veteran of this era to run for the highest office of the land. Many Vietnam vets have their own demons to face, and many would not want to get involved in the demons of others. Especially since some of the demons we face today are directly resulting from that terrible period in time. So where does that leave us?
Well the traditional model of a president is an elder statesman, learned and wise, with experience in a broad range of subjects. While youth can indeed be a factor, the truth is that Experience in statecraft is indeed hard won. With the new President-Elect, we are left with an unknown. He has the capacity to become either a great President, or the worst disaster this country has suffered in a long time. We have a man that could be more divisive than Nixon, and less inclined to use Force than Clinton. Leading us to a wide chasm of bleak possibilities.
While it might be simple personal bias, I believe that a veteran, of any war is far more qualified than most civilians regardless of experience. When it comes to crisis management, stress of the job, and the ability to make, and stick with hard descisions, you would be hard pressed to find someone more qualified than a soldier, of any branch.