Caring For Our Veterans
The Man on The Street
The homeless, inebriated Veteran with extreme psychosocial deficits has nearly reached the level of a mocked and prototypical caricature. I view this as an extremely sad state of affairs resulting from our nation’s frequent but often superficial and ineffectual programs to help returning Veterans.
After asking an individual to sacrifice everything; their moral compass, their families for extended periods of time, and possibly their lives, our increasing recalcitrance toward any attempt at authentic remuneration and follow up care is shameful.
http://www.va.gov/oca/Vet_Legis.asp lists hundreds of Bills brought initially by either the House or the Senate regarding the benefits and care of Veterans over the last six congressional classes. A tiny minority of these was ever signed into law and many of the one’s that were included provisions to cut funding to Veterans programs and to severely limit medical benefits. This represents a true change in the zeitgeist from the WWII era. That was a time when individual people sacrificed and made small but sincere efforts to support the War effort (i.e. meatless Mondays, Victory Gardens, Victory Bonds) and the government passed legislation that led to the most financially healthy period in U.S. history (i.e. the GI Bill).
Since OIF and OEF the most we have seen from individuals is an enthusiastic yet completely token use of bumper stickers, “Proclaiming I Support the Troops,” and a governmental withdrawal from the pecuniary responsibilities of caring for a generation after sending them to war. If you are going to be a war-hawk in the United States Congress or as an appointee in the Execute Branch you must be willing to make this financial commitment. Even if someone is morally bankrupt enough not to feel a sense of fidelity towards our returning troops the matter is also one of pragmatics. To leave so many, so inadequately cared for is bad for the economy, social indices, and the country’s future in general.
Reinvesting in our Heroes
The apathy to the issues that axiomatically follow from military trauma such as substance abuse, affective disorders, TBI’s, sleep disorders, and suicidality is confounding. The funds to provide programs and benefits to redress these issues are there. They are simply being spent on brand new fighter jets we’ll never use, on 3,000 M-1 Tanks that have never been used sitting in the Nevada desert, and other excesses and lunacies that define the Military Industrial Complex. Eisenhower warned us about this in 1961 and would seem all but clairvoyant in his predictive concerns and yet unable to alter the course we have taken despite his premonitions. Surely our best military investments are in our young people who will design the next generation of warfare technology, in our current soldiers and their operational readiness, and in providing them with the equipment they need; not in pork-barrel spending or MIC jobs programs.