A reader writes:

John Kerry hits the nail on the head - and a mere day after it occurred to me for the first time how close I came to getting stuck in Iraq myself. Back in 1986 my poor parents worked their butts off to find some way to get me into a decent college. I had decent grades so money was the main problem. 

One of the potential ways around that money problem was - yep - ROTC. As it was, the powers that be wouldn't let me into ROTC since my eyes weren't that great, but that turned out to be a huge blessing. Had my parents ended up sticking me into military reserve service to get the funds that would send me to college, I might have ended up in Iraq - in Gulf War I, which started the year after I left college. Whew! A very very close call indeed.

Of course, if anyone dares speak the truth about military service - that many if not most people get into it not as a patriotic enterprise but as a lucrative job or source of job training, they get their heads lopped off by hateful attacks and slander. Some people went to Iraq because they really wanted to fight for our country there. But only some of them. Most just got stuck there. It's high time people dropped the silly pretense and admitted it.

Andrew - don't fall for the silly Karl Rove hype machine this time.

I'm not. But there is a real issue here - an ambiguous criticism of the troops - and it wouldn't be hard to correct it. I intend to focus on the real issue right now: the failed war in Iraq. My reader worries about being sent to Iraq War I. But that war was waged by a competent, decent president, not an incompetent, indecent one. That's the real issue in this election. And we owe it to the troops not to be distracted from it.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.