During our military careers veterans learned very quickly the importance of leadership. We know especially from our combat experiences good leaders save lives! Making tough leadership decisions doesn’t create many friends; however it does create many critics. The Veterans Alliance of Orange County (VALOR) supports Governor Gavin Newsom and opposes the current recall effort.

Covid 19 is an enemy that crossed our shores ushering a pandemic that has killed over a half million Americans. The deaths left in this enemy’s wake shocked our nation and challenged the leadership skills of our elected officials. Tough decisions to control this epidemiological monster had to be made immediately in an environment where the death count was increasing daily. We veterans know that in combat situations commanding officers must balance many interests before determining a battle plan. In Vietnam I served under officers that were more concerned about the implications to their political/career than doing the right thing.

Our governor faced a similar moral and leadership dilemma while he developed his battle plan against the Covid 19 enemy. As in combat the political pressures were enormous. He was faced with a decision to listen to self-serving politicians or to scientists. Similar to battlefield commanders who often face a similar choice…listen to the politicians or the intelligence and scout teams on the ground. Governor Newsom made a very tough but right choice to follow the direction of the scientists. 

As in combat there are rarely many good choices available. Any choice often will be harmful to those involved. But in life or death situations gut-wrenching decisions must be made. Our governor made the decision to risk his political career and future by prioritizing saving lives regardless of the political implications. In effect he took a bullet to protect us and his political future.

Given the economic and social impact his decisions had on the residents of our state and Orange County, it was predictable that there would be robust disagreement and opposition. It was also predictable that some would see this as a political opportunity to advance their partisan agendas. Unfortunately it didn’t take long before opportunists, without regard to the sanctity of life decided to attack the governor. We all understand that partisan opportunism has become a part of our political landscape. But this attack on the governor is promoted by extremists who have lied and created a false narrative in an attempt to manipulate voters for the sole purpose to install leaders who will embrace their extremist positions. Simply put the recall leaders value money and business interests over lives.

All of us must recognize and appreciate with the upmost compassion everyone who has been negatively impacted by this terrible invisible (Covid) enemy. However after evaluating all the facts veterans who understand the implications of life and death decisions should stand by our governor and support his choice to protect the lives of Californians and Orange County residents.  

Nick Berardino Vietnam Combat Veteran 1967-68 USMC. President of VALOR (Veterans Alliance of Orange County).

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