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Abstract of Interview: Michael Barr served in the Air Force branch of
the Army during the Vietnam War conflict. Serving for almost 28 years,
Michael Barr presents in his interview his insights into not only his time
in the military, but also a great deal about his feelings regarding the VA
and a valuable perspective that reflects on the nascent days of the
American conflict in Iraq.
Interviewer: George Martin
Date of Interview: July 30, 2003
Place of Interview: Troy University, Dothan
Name of Indexer: Hayden McDaniel
Date of Index: March 29, 2009
Description of Military Experiences
Mr. Barr notes that he was first
drafted into the army when he was in college. He subsequently
served two tours in Vietnam in the Air Force, then a section of the
Army. He was deployed twice to Germany, and he was also sent to
Southwest Asia and Central America. He was, however, able to finish
his degree on the G.I. Bill before his second deployment to
Germany. Mr. Barr served in Operation Desert Storm. His last years
of his 27 year 10 month tenure in the military were spent in
Washington working in medical logistics; he retired as a major in
Mr. Barr graduated in 1971 with a
degree in social sciences. He was able to earn his degree on the
G.I. Bill. Mr. Barr says he always wanted to be a history
professor. At the time of the interview, he was working on a
Masters' degree in International Relations. He hoped to one day
gain entrance to a Ph.D. program so that he might realize his dream
of teaching at the college level.
Attitude towards the military
Upon being asked his opinion about
his view of the military, Mr. Barr begins his statement by stating
his “chagrin over too many involvements in the world.” He talks
about the military under Carter (of which Barr was a part), frequent
military deployments, and the 3rd I.D. Mr. Barr's
sentiment was that America “cannot police the world.” Mr. Barr also
proposes his belief that the army may have to reduce the quality of
the military or reinstate the draft in order to fill quotas. He
hopes the latter is not the fate of the military because the draft,
according to Mr. Barr, is “politically distasteful.”
Mr. Barr, at the time of the
interview, felt that America had “no defined goal in Iraq.” He also
discusses his speculation as to oil being the major contributor to
the war (“smacks of big politics and wealthy republicans”), as well
as the lack of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq.
Issues concerning the VA
In an attempt to illuminate the state
of the VA from his perspective, Mr. Barr provides the example of the
VA holding beds and other operations in hospitals nationwide, and he
feels that this usage (and some others) of the VA's money could be
better spent in other ventures. He feels the VA took on their now
heavy load “without adequate funding,” and as a result, the VA has
suffered its share of abuses.
The present situation of the VA
In discussing the present situation
of the VA, Mr. Barr talks about the VA's infrastructure and the
dependency and indemnity in the VA. Mr. Barr feels that the VA “has
too many missions.” He reiterates the fact that he is against the
abuses the VA suffers at the hands of some of its veterans; he also
discusses Priority 8 and the Means test.
The course of the Iraq War
Mr. Barr asserts his belief that the
involvement in Iraq is a “police action.”
Bureaucracy of the VA
Mr. Barr's commentary on the VA
continues with topics such as psychological issues with veterans
(and the VA's support of their therapy), the operations that the VA
supports for its veterans, as well as briefly discusses the effects
of Agent Orange. He says “the [VA] has to be prepared.”
America policing the world
On being asked about his view on
military cuts, Mr. Barr asserts that he will agree with modest cuts
in the military, but he notes that as long as America continues to
police the world, the budget cannot be cut. He also talks about the
incursion into Africa in Liberia, speculation that Osama Bin Laden
is an “urban legend,” the relationship with Saudi Arabia, and Saddam
General discussion of Afghanistan
As opposed to his commentary on Iraq,
Mr. Barr has significantly less to say about American involvement in
Afghanistan (and also Pakistan). He feels that “Afghanistan will
take care of itself.” He accurately predicts the course of the
involvement in Iraq when he says “I think we'll be there [Iraq] for
years to come.”
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