Letter to the editor

In response to “Petraeus unfit to mentor USC students”

Self-proclaimed radical, Jayel Aheram, recently wrote an article for the Daily Trojan stating his belief that General Petraeus is unfit to mentor USC veterans.  His article is rife with hypotheticals, speculation and unsubstantiated “facts,” and the crux of his argument is an out-of-context quote from Marine veteran, Ian Daily, who is quoted as saying that Petraeus is “out-of-touch” and “disconnected” from those who served under him; it is implied that this makes him unfit to mentor veterans. Daily clarified his position by saying, “[H]is presence and influence at USC has been instrumental in bringing veterans’ issues to the forefront of the administration’s attention, and cannot be understated. The vast majority of veterans at USC have been supportive of his appointment both to the faculty and as an adviser to the Veterans Association.” While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I must now express mine as to why Aheram is unfit to cast judgment on General Petraeus.

Aheram does not represent the voices of USC’s veterans. In fact, he is the lone individual who has expressed that reservation to us. His attack is even more surprising because he is not a participant in the Veterans Association. For someone who has no interest in the USCVA, why does he have an interest in its faculty adviser? His biased position is in stark contrast to that of the majority of our members.  Marlene Julye, a Navy veteran, understands that “it is important to have an opinion, but it is equally important to produce a well researched and balanced editorial that allows readers to obtain the full picture … it is often easier to say what people should do, when they do not have to step into their shoes.” What Aheram fails to consider is that every service member experiences the military differently and, because of that, he should have refrained from presuming that the veteran community agrees with his opinion. It does not.

In March 2013, General Petraeus spoke at the USC ROTC/Veterans Reception. It was his first public speech since he resigned from the CIA. There, he not only apologized for the mistake that led to his resignation, but vowed “to move forward in a manner that is consistent with the values to which [he] subscribed before slipping [his] moorings and, as best as possible, to make amends to those [he] has hurt and let down.” Since joining the USC faculty in July, General Petraeus has actively lived up to his promise to make amends, and advocating for veterans is just the beginning.

In a Wall Street Journal article, General Petraeus details the complexities of integrating veterans into the job force. “[S]imply providing a job may not be the optimal solution, because the issue for these men and women isn’t just jobs. It’s careers.” That statement echoes our viewpoint — that USC is the launching point for our future careers. Having an adviser who understands our unique needs is a valuable asset that reflects the high standard expected in every USC faculty member. Kraig Patriquin, an Army veteran, feels that “student-faculty relationships are an integral part of higher education. I am honored to have the man I took orders from during my three tours in Iraq as my new faculty adviser.”

In short, General Petraeus has already had a profound impact on the veteran community at USC. He has been an advocate of veteran issues from day one and an inspiration to all of our members. The USCVA is honored to have him as our faculty adviser and we look forward to the progress we will make together.

Keith Williams

President of the USC Veterans Association

U.S. Air Force veteran

Third-year law student at the Gould School of Law

Joshua Jacobs

Executive Advisor to the USC Veterans Association

U.S. Marine Corps and Afghanistan War veteran

Graduate student in the Leventhal School of Accounting

Follow us on Twitter @dailytrojan

2 replies
  1. jax4usc
    jax4usc says:

    Keith Williams’,

    Bully for you, Junior Birdman! General Petraeus stands among our finest wartime leaders. Great male leaders have a unique magnetism for adventurous women. I’m not sure I don’t envy that magnetism.

    Stand tall.

    Fight On!

    Jack Henzie

    Army Security Agency, 1953-1956
    USC Journalism, 1951-53, 1956-58.
    RA 19464563

  2. Jeff Engen
    Jeff Engen says:

    Making personal attacks on a Veteran for voicing his opinion; classy.

    Aheram’s article certainly has it’s flaws but claiming he is trying to speak on behalf of all veterans is absurd. That is exactly what you are trying to do by speaking for the USCVA. Aheram is perfectly fit to judge the hiring of Petraeus; and you should know this as a law student.

    The USCVA needs a drastic “surge”.

    Sadly, the community college I transfered from (with a $100K endowment) has a better veteran program than USC.

    In short, what “profound impact” has Petraeus had on the USCVA?
    Are the number of yellow ribbon program recipients still less than 1/10 of the school’s veterans?
    What does the USCVA do to promote mental health?

    I used to be a big fan of Petraeus and I hope he can restore his grace while making the USCVA relevant..

    -Jeff Engen
    USC Human Biology student and Marine OIF/OEF veteran

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