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Memorial Day 2014 – You’ve heard that a thousand times – and you do support the men and women in our military. Perhaps you thank them for their service when you pass them in an airport. We’ll be on the Village Green this morning to honor those who died to protect us and we’ll look for you there.
Perhaps you display the flag on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Some precious few of us volunteer at a VA facility. But do we really support our military men and women as they need us to do it?
We let our politicians put them in harms way in two avoidable wars, resulting in a quarter of a million casualties. That doesn’t sound particularly supportive.
We sent them to war without body armor, vehicle armor or even an exit plan. And we deployed them over and over again so that some spent so many years in a war zone that they had no clue how to survive outside that hostile environment – like at home. That doesn’t sound very supportive, either.
The Veterans Administration is supposed to help our vets and in large measure they do that very well. But shortcomings can have lethal consequences.
Our veterans are killing themselves at the rate of nearly one per day. The actual number is difficult to pin down, as reports of suicides and causes are measured in several different ways and the Pentagon’s own numbers are imprecise. Regardless, hundreds of our troops are taking their lives every year, some due to PTSD, others due to drug abuse. Others succumb because of an intolerably long waiting list at their VA hospital and the resulting complete lack of medical care. They desperately need our support.
The problems with the care provided by the Veterans Administration have been well known for decades. I don’t know the root causes nor do I have an idea what level of funding would ensure proper care for the expanding number of our veterans who need our support. The certainty I have is that playing the blame game, like firing Gen. Eric Shinseki, will not fix the problems. Politicians grandstanding and histrionically wringing hands will not fix the problems. And you and I tolerating this neglect of our military men and women will not fix the problems.
The behavior you and I tolerate is the behavior we get. Clearly, we have been tolerating this. And there are troops in their graves whom we mourn on this 2014 Memorial Day who didn’t need to be there so soon. They deserved better than that.
It’s time for us to support our troops by demanding better for them. That will be a fitting commitment from us to those who committed everything for us.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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