Edmonds Military Wire: NBC’s ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ needs a change of command

By Michael Schindler

One can’t watch TV today without seeing some celebrity on some show trying to prove their abilities outside of their trade, whether it be acting, sports or whatever. In my mind, they have nothing to prove, and I’d prefer to see the common Joe compete on a reality show. I hold this statement for NBC’s latest reality show, “Stars Earn Stripes.” That being said, I find the concept good, it just needs some tweaking.

Before I offend anyone, in full disclosure, I’m not a trained movie or show critic — I’m just a guy that knows what he likes and my opinion is usually right — unless, of course, my wife says otherwise. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been entrenched with our military and veteran issues for the past six years, wrote a book on our military families that is endorsed by General Tommy Franks, General Pete Chiarelli and others, I’m often on the local FOX affiliate to discuss the military and veterans issues, and between our for-profit and non-profit we directly engage thousands of military and veteran families each year.

All that to say, I’m not a critic — I’m a Navy veteran who continues to serve his brothers and sisters…so what I’m about to offer up is designed to add value. Besides, if my daughters read this they would remind me that “our words are to encourage and uplift” (family mandate) – to find the 1 percent we agree on and build on that…so here it goes.

As my wife and I sat watching the show, her first comment to me was, “I find it really hard to believe these actors…I mean, do they “really” get it, or are they just saying they do because that is their role?” Good question. The host at times seemed a bit dramatic (sorry DWTS lady) and we both found it really hard to rally behind any one of the contestants, simply because we didn’t know why they were putting themselves through the experience — except to “better understand” what our service members do on a daily basis. I found myself cheering for all the Special Forces crew because I like what they stand for…and Todd Palin – because he seemed the most “real” guy there (and simply because I grew up in Alaska).

I’d like to see our politicians compete. Heck, at least they can influence change — but one needs to be fit to compete and coachable, thus the reason for selecting who they did. So, get the directors of the non-profits to compete — like Devin from Warrior Gateway, which is a partner with Got Your Six. He’s fit and he understands the issues. Pull Chris Marvin into the mix from Service Nation, shoot, pull me in; everyone needs an underdog to cheer for. At least profile the non-profits these stars are representing so America can see what impact they have and then America can rally behind the Star who represents that non-profit because they then know what the star is fighting for.

And give them an action plan that they can implement in their community. We have a solid community engagement plan each one of these stars could walk away with and pioneer amongst their inner circle that would benefit the veteran, their families, the businesses and the community as a whole. Instead, what I got was Dolvett Quince who has a new appreciation for our frontline. That’s great — but hey, why not equip him with a plan to directly engage the military and veteran communities as well as his community so he can be part of the solution?

One final note: I flat out don’t agree with the honorable Desmond Tutu and the handful of other scholars who think this show glorifies war and violence. News flash to you scholars, unfortunately we have wars and there are bad people out there wanting to kill the good people. We need people who are willing to stand on the frontlines so all you Nobel Peace Prize winners can pontificate. America needs to know what it takes to preserve freedom (Girls, that statement was meant to be positive).

Bottom line: Stars Earn Stripes has room for improvement — and maybe I’m being too critical too soon; let’s put it this way, the jury is still out — but if America learns what it takes to keep this country free as a result of this show, good.

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include  “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.”  He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.