By William J. Astore
The short answer is: There’s a good deal wrong, and a good deal of harm done, not so much to them as to us.
*By making our military a league of heroes, we ensure that the brutalizing aspects and effects of war will be played down. In celebrating isolated heroic feats, we often forget that war is guaranteed to degrade humanity. “War,” as writer and cultural historian Louis Menand noted, “is specially terrible not because it destroys human beings, who can be destroyed in plenty of other ways, but because it turns human beings into destroyers.”
When we create a legion of heroes in our minds, we blind ourselves to evidence of their destructive, sometimes atrocious, behavior. Heroes, after all, don’t commit atrocities. They don’t, for instance, dig bullets out of pregnant women’s bodies in an attempt to cover up deadly mistakes. They don’t fire on a good Samaritan and his two children as he attempts to aid a grievously wounded civilian. Such atrocities and murderous blunders, so common to war’s brutal chaos, produce cognitive dissonance in the minds of many Americans who simply can’t imagine their “heroes” killing innocents. How much easier it is to see the acts of violence of our troops as necessary, admirable, even noble.
As few people are willing to acknowledge, we haven't fought an enemy who threatened our country since WW II. You don't get a lot of credit from me for participating in stupid and unnecessary wars. Someone who protests these wars, even when the wars are popular, is arguably more heroic.
A commenter on Facebook concurs:
Shawn Hawk the "Sioux Warrior"
Weaponized drone = Indian savage
Gang culture in Indian country
Indians join military for paycheck?
Bottom line: Many (Native) soldiers are heroes and many aren't. But nobody's a hero automatically. Do something heroic and then we'll call you a hero, not before.
For more on the definition of "warrior," see Billy Mills Defines "Warrior" and Sitting Bull Defines "Warrior." For more on the subject in general, see Indians in the Military and Diplomacy Works, Violence Doesn't.