Monday, May 26, 2014

Week of 05/26/2014

We Have Failed Our Veterans
I will say this about “my country, ‘tis of thee…”
We love waging war!
We do!  As the late George Carlin once said, we’re the only nation in the world that has rockets and bombs in its national anthem!  We send hypocritical chickenhawks to Washington who continually pledge to “get tough” on the world when bad things are said about us.  We’re known around the world as war-mongers, the only country (at least as of this article) to have ever dropped a nuclear device on another nation, and we did that twice.
We love war!  We love waging it.  We love preparing for it.  We love coming up with all of the propaganda to get ourselves in the mood for it.  We love watching it on the cable news channels as we get ourselves into that evangelical “with us or against us” mindset.
And you know what we love more than that?  We love winning those wars.  Oh our previous elected doofus, President George W. Bush, could not wait to get that “Mission Accomplished” banner flying when it came to the Iraq War!  We hadn’t even found Saddam Hussein yet and we were declaring the fight over with and looking for new wars to wage.
What we don’t like to do, though, is clean up after our own messes.
Oh it’s easy to send in the contractors to fix up the infrastructure.  That’s why Halliburton loves our war-wacky chickenhawk crusades; because they get paid the big bucks afterward.
What’s not so easy is taking care of our own servicemen and women after the fighting has stopped.
For the past few weeks, our Veterans Administration has been embarrassed at the revelations of their gross incompetence when it comes to doing their jobs of helping those that served.  News of secret waiting lists and veterans literally dying before being “allowed” to have the help they need.
This is not how we should be treating our servicemen and women for all they did on our behalf.
And yet… I angers me to say that this is par for the course.
Let’s get brutally honest here… we have a long, long, long history of giving our veterans the shaft!
Yes, on occasion we’ve bent over backwards for them.  This was certainly the case after World War II, between the tickertape parades and the G.I. Bill and all of the programs that were supposedly designed to help the supposed “Greatest Generation” get back to a post-war life.
And, yes, there were those celebrations after the Gulf War, since President George H.W. Bush wanted the world to know not only who “won” that conflict, but also that it was supposedly time to start the “post-war economic boom” that never happened.
But do you remember the tickertape parade for the soldiers that came home after the Korean War?  No?  How about the Vietnam War?  Yeah, there were the ones in the eighties… long after the fact.  But the soldiers that came home from the conflict were pretty much left to fend for themselves.
How about World War I?
Here’s a little piece of embarrassing history for our country… in 1932, America’s veterans from World War I assembled in Washington D.C. to demand what was promised to them.  Our government responded to the peaceful request by our veterans with tear gas, bayonets, and tanks.  Led by Douglas MacArthur and George Patton, of all people!
Go ahead and look it up.  It was called the “Bonus Army”.  There was plenty of footage then.  They even made a movie in 1933 based on it called “Gabriel Over The White House”.
No, we feel we don’t need to reward our servicemen, do we?  We just expect them to simply carry on like nothing ever happened.  “Welcome home, now get back to work.  Get back with your lives.”
There is a little meme going about that says that if we can’t take care of our veterans, then we shouldn’t be waging wars in the first place.  Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders recently tweeted “If you think it's too expensive to take care of #veterans, then don't send them to war.”
While there is a part of me that overwhelmingly agrees with the idea, the truth of the matter is that, with some exceptions, we’ve been pretty much screwing over our veterans since the end of the American Revolution.  And we will continue to screw over our servicemen and women, because the people that call for war are not the ones that pay the price for it.  They sit comfortably in their offices, thousands of miles away from any kind of danger, watching with excitement and bloodlust as the carnage plays out on the cable news channels.  They reap all of the benefits and risk none of the consequences.
But that doesn’t mean that we should simply give up on our veterans!  Nor should we simply let the gross incompetence continue.  The people responsible for the gross incompetence, the ones that have been cooking the books, the ones turning veterans away as a matter of policy, and the ones that have stuck their heads in the sand instead of doing their jobs and putting a stop to that, they all need to be held accountable.  They all need to be fired and face possible criminal charges.  And, yes, that includes the overseers in Congress who are supposed to make sure these kinds of things did not happen.
President Barack Obama made healthcare reform his signature legislation.  With that in mind, it is nothing short of an embarrassment to know that his White House would let this kind of gross incompetence to continue when it comes to the healthcare of America’s veterans.  His people should be doing a building-by-building visit, checking the books to make sure there are no more embarrassments for them; that our veterans are getting exactly the help they need without delay.
Let’s put it this way: if the Obama White House cannot guarantee healthcare for our former servicemen and women, the people that voluntarily gave their lives in service to “king and country”, then how can they ensure the healthcare for the rest of the nation?
The script tells us that we must all “support the troops”, and I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of us do just that.  But that support should not end just because their service does.  They deserve nothing less than what is promised to them for their willing sacrifice.

1 comment:

Jerry Wesner said...

I question that the problem with veterans' hospitals is incompetence. I've seen no evidence of doctors or other medical professionals who can't do, aren't doing, their jobs properly. What I see is a lack of funding to provide a decent doctor/patient ratio. That comes from underfunding, and that is primarily the doing of the Republicans in Congress.