Commentary co-authored by Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, and the former executive director of Vets for Freedom. Pete is a Fox News Contributor, TheBlaze Real News host and an infantry officer in the Army National Guard, and has served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.

The New York Times is no stranger to sensational journalism, routinely focusing on provocative subjects and storylines, but a new low was reached this week—even for the New York Times.

An essay written by Kathleen Belew, a quintessential representative of American academia, brazenly attempted to link veterans to white supremacy. Now both Belew and the New York Times owe the nation’s veterans and military families an apology.

In publishing the essay, the Times must have expected to be on the receiving end of veteran outrage and indignation. Count us as two veterans among the many others who feel that the essay was a blatant assault on veterans by trying to categorically label America’s fighting men and women as uncontrollable misfits and the military services as a breeding ground for violent and erratic behavior. All of it is wrong and unsubstantiated.

The New York Times image that accompanied Kathleen Belew's "Veterans and White Supremacy" article. Credit: New York Times

The New York Times image that accompanied Kathleen Belew’s “Veterans and White Supremacy” article. Credit: New York Times

The American military is an institution that has benefited from the honorable service of millions of young men and women in the last decade alone. The military services teach discipline, leadership, teamwork and build a sense of camaraderie that is virtually unmatchable. In combat, relationships are often forged through life and death situations and, through conflicts past and present, soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen have selflessly laid down their lives to protect the lives of others. Few bonds are as strong as those created through military service.

Over the last 10 years, more than 1,000 valor awards have been given for combat heroism. There have been 13 Medals of Honor. Seven were awarded posthumously, because those who performed the heroic actions did so knowing they were unlikely to survive. That is a true reflection of America’s military and those who serve, not isolated acts of violence that, as despicable as they are, have no real correlation to military training or some fictitious sense of resentment promoted through military service.

When looking at who makes up the ranks of America’s military, there are predominantly young Americans –in their 20s, some still in their teens—who are patriotic and committed to serving their country. These same Americans are trained to do a job and with it, they are handed great responsibility. And when facing an enemy, they are capable of exercising great caution and showing discretion.

A military aid holds the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House August 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama presented US Army Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter the Medal of Honor for his actions during 2009 in Afghanistan while defending Command Outpost Keating. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

A military aid holds the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House August 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama presented US Army Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter the Medal of Honor for his actions during 2009 in Afghanistan while defending Command Outpost Keating. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images 

The New York Times and Belew can take a lesson from our military men and women and veterans. These heroes should be celebrated. True, any American should be called to task when it’s deserved, but what Belew’s essay conveyed was downright shameful.

Knowing the type of individuals who are veterans and actively serving, they would be gracious in accepting an apology from the Belew and the New York Times. The real question is whether Belew and the New York Times are gracious and honorable enough to give one.

Feature Photo: AP

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