Monday, November 12, 2012

Remembering The Veteran.

As always, this one is for “Uncle Dick.”

Another Veterans day is upon us, the Eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year. This year we celebrate it a day later than usual. And this year, on the Monday set aside for such remembrances, it is again fitting to consider the service our veterans have rendered, and what we own these men and women.

We owe more than poppies or pancakes at Denny’s, we own them our due consideration and support. We owe them the support we promised them when they went off to fight fort our nation. It’s more than just honoring the hallowed fallen. It’s more than marching in a parade.

The dead do need remembrance, but more important is remembering the living. We have to remember that war not only breaks nations, it also breaks people. It breaks them mentally, spiritually, and physically. We have a duty to due our best to heal those wounds.

This is especially true of our wars of choice: of Iraq, of Afghanistan. The nation via the Bush Administration has been derelict in it’s responsibilities. I speak of the horror show that was Walter Reed.

I also speak of other ways we have failed our Veterans and are still failing them. We must remember how we, yes all of us, let the Cowboy in the White House send our men and women ill prepared to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must remember how Bush, and now Obama,  fought those wars on the cheep. We must remember how Bush refused to supply the right kind of helmet to our war-fighters, and how that $800.00 per person “saving” contributed to the signature injury of Iraq-- traumatic brain injury.

For those men and women who suffered that signature injury their lives were altered in ways both significant and tragic. The simplest of tasks became a mountain to climb; cognition was gone, motor skills shot.

And it was not just physical injuries that affected the minds of our service members. Multiple deployments, and the PTSD that attend the reality of war, have caused psychic harm that has yet to be fully understood. Our leaders sent mentally ill men and woman back to the war zone loaded up on ferocious medications; just to fill the manning hole. Those men and woman, scarred multiple times on multiple deployments, are now expected to rejoin society.

Some of them are already not fitting in. They are joining one of the greatest disgraces our nation allows: Veteran Homelessness. Of all the hurts and insults we as a nation inflict on our Veterans, this one, homelessness has got to be the worst. These men, and it is by a large margin men, we used up and then disposed of like so much trash. We see them on our street corners, we see them on subway grates, we see them camped out in public parks, we see them-- but we don’t. We allow them to live their solitary lives, wrestling with their inner demons, and do so little to truly help them.
Only recently has the VA found the funds to help a small section of the homeless veterans. A one hundred million dollar fund has be set aside for the purpose of helping the homeless find real lodging. It’s a good start, but let’s be honest, it’s a drop in the bucket. The DoD probably spends more on office supplies and office furnishings in a year than what we are spending on homeless veterans.

My greatest fear is that with the war in Iraq wound down, and Afghanistan headed the same way, even this small gesture of concern for our wounded warriors will evaporate like dew on a hot August morning. There are hundreds of thousands of men and women wounded in mind and body from the wars of Bush and Obama. There a millions of men and women injured from wars past. Our record of assisting them has been mixed at best.

On this Veteran’s Day let us recommit our selves to our service members. Let us not only remember the fallen, but those who, to a fashion, survive. Let us do what needs doing and insist that our government give them the due consideration their sacrifice entails. We owe our veterans so much, let’s start paying what is owed.
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