On active duty, his record speaks for itself. I cannot even start to mention how heartening it is to see one topic he is addressing in retirement - attacking directly a smear that we've been discussing here since 2004.
In a speech last month, Mattis tackled a concern that is on the minds of a number of combat leaders: A public that wants to paint veterans as victims and why that is potentially damaging to the fighting spirit of America's warriors.Those who have been subjected to my fits of fanboy stories of the times I worked with General Mattis first in 2001 and last in 2009, know my feelings for the man as a leader and a mensch. Those who have served with him know of what I speak.
"I would just say there is one misperception of our veterans and that is they are somehow damaged goods," Mattis said. "I don't buy it."
"If we tell our veterans enough that this is what is wrong with them they may actually start believing it," he said during questions after a speech at the Marines' Memorial Club in San Francisco.
"While victimhood in America is exalted I don't think our veterans should join those ranks," Mattis said.
"There is also something called post traumatic growth where you come out of a situation like that and you actually feel kinder toward your fellow man and fellow woman," Mattis said.
Mattis is legendary for his bluntness, but his words are chosen carefully. He is an avid reader of military history, but also literature.
Mattis' point is that warfare often comes down to a clash of wills. Technology and weaponry matter, but war, even on today's battlefield, is often won or lost at the point of a bayonet.
Mattis said the U.S. military must be steeled to fight a fanatical enemy that has a medieval worldview. The enemy must be convinced that it has a warrior class that won't back down.
"We are going to have to have young people in our country who are willing to go toe to toe with this because two irreconcilable wills exist," he said.
"There is no room for military people, including our veterans, to see themselves as victims even if so many of our countrymen are prone to relish that role," he said.
This latest effort of his has done the impossible - increased my opinion of him.
To the ends of the earth for this man - the ends of the earth.
Here you go. Get a fresh cup of coffee, put the phone to email. The full speech from the 3rd Annual Salute to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans with General James N. Mattis, USMC, (Ret.) at the Marines' Memorial Club of San Francisco on April 23, 2014.
He starts by putting those who want to have the USA withdraw from engagement in the world on report.
At the 25-min point, he goes full Salamander on economics. The PTSD subject starts at the 28:30 point, and comes up again at the 48:30 point.
The last 35 seconds, in context, are sublime in its power..
D@mn, I need to go PT.