Since the time of the American Revolution, American men and women have answered the call to serve the country in the armed services. All of the branches enjoy a proud tradition of safeguarding our democracy whenever our government makes the call. Unfortunately, once they have Served, they are ignored. Why are Veterans treated in this way? The answer is quite simple; money!
While we live in a democracy, we also live in a capitalistic society. A society where money is not everything; it is the only thing! War is profitable. Citizens and non-citizens have been making a profit from the US war machine since the time of the revolution and the profiteering has continued unchecked since that time. However, once the war-making is finished, those who served are no longer an asset. They become accounts payable on the federal balance sheet and are left to fend for themselves. They return to society, scared forever, with nothing more than the cursory "Thank you for your service."
Every administration promises increased assistance for veterans. "We need to be there for those who have given there all for this country, blah, blah, blah!" They talk a good line, and in most cases, they throw money at one or two hot-button issues and gut the others.
- Herbert Hoover was one of the first to turn the military loose on veterans who were asking for what they were promised; their bonus. Hoover used the great Douglas MacArthur to raid their protest camp and burn them out. "Thank you for your service."
- The Readjustment Benefit for World War II Veterans was cut as the National Debt grew. The number of unemployed veterans also increased making the benefit too costly to maintain. "Thank you for your service."
- Evolution of the euphemistic language we use to describe the horrible disease of the mental distress dealing with our combat experiences remains nothing more than buzzwords. Shell Shock, Combat Fatigue, War Neurosis, and PTSD are unbelievable diseases we live with that few will understand. It is paralyzing and needs to be at the forefront of funding but gets little. "Thank you for your service."
- Agent Orange, which our government took over 20 years to acknowledge and provide relief for veterans. Desert Sickness is the new Agent Orange. They don't know what it is and there is no energy toward finding an answer. "Thank you for your service."
How do we fix this? The answer may be easier than you think. As a combat veteran and advocate, here is my suggestion.
- Don't thank me for my service. Rather, get in touch with your elected official and work with them to fulfill the promises made to the women and men who served the country.
- Don't use us as political pawns. Don't get wrapped around the flagpole because someone did not show respect for the flag or stand for the national anthem the way you think they should then drag veterans into the argument. I do not know a single veteran who fought for the flag. We fought for the country and our home!
- Never say to an active duty person; I support you but I don't support the mission. They are the mission! Make your voice heard at the ballot box, not to the military member who is serving.
If you truly want to help, give veterans hope by your voice, your action, and your advocacy. It is the best thanks you can give us.
Happy Veterans Day to all my Brothers and Sisters who are serving and have served.