Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Cold Night in Hooverville

It's Veteran's Day here in the US, November eleventh.

I don't know that I have anything profound to add. I've never served. I do know a few veterans, some with combat experience. My cousins, two uncles, a friend or several, one of my mother-in-law's grandsons, and men I see on the streets in desperate condition. Most of them don't talk about it much.

From a distance, I wonder about how the armed services seem to take great satisfaction in running the expensive high tech gear while maintaining their forces and their families on a shoestring. I don't know - maybe that is considered good budget management. And then after the people doing the fighting come home, they have senators voting against their benefits. Why?!? That just boggles my mind.

Okay, now I have to rant a little.

If we have young people serving some of the best years of their life for our country - going where they are told, doing what they are told, living an impossibly stressful life, surviving or not surviving or somewhat surviving (which may be worse) - then how can we not pony up their benefits and promised education?

Apparently, this denial of benefits is not new, though. Who was it - Hoover? who denied promised pay to a host of veterans, then when they and their families camped out in protest, in desperation, had them slashed down by calvary and burned out of their camp? Tell me I didn't just imagine that one. Maybe I read it in a book. ...No, sadly, the Bonus March was real. Hoover had a different opinion about how it went down and why, natcherly.

Currently, we have a young person (or old person) putting their life and sanity on the line for years, and then we as a country are miserly in compensating them? It speaks of a disrespect for the job they are asked to do. What does that make us? Ungrateful users. Never mind all the slogans. Even I, as a sorta peacenik, think we need to do better.

Where is the care and respect for treating their dire wounds of body and soul? Some veterans are near-literally kicked to the curb to beg for assistance. I see some of them on street corners every day. Who is going to salute them instead of pointedly looking the other way? I am too chicken-sh!t to talk to them, but it doesn't keep me from grinding my teeth when I hear about another benefit voted down or mental health services pulled, or the definitions of covered benefits changed. No, no, that's not Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, noooo; that person was already a little screwed up. Oh! Or maybe they are bi-polar! No PTSD here! Sure. Anything to avoid treating them. Excuse me, but What the h3ll?

Yes, veterans deserve a thank you, but it'd be even more appropriate if we would give them better services in appreciation for their service.
< /rant >

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