Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This Time, Let’s Do It Right For Veterans

This isn’t the first time we have gone to war and then have quickly forgotten our troops when they returned. I saw it for the first time 30 years ago as Vietnam ended. In one respect it was worse then, because many citizens also blamed the troops for the failures in South East Asia.

Our sons and daughters and friends continue to die and be wounded, both physically and mentally in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet… and yet… once again, our returning veterans, now coming back in our communities, are quickly dropping under the radar – their basic needs for health care, education, jobs, and housing are now being crowded out once again by other priorities.

Now obviously, problems like the economy hit all of us, including veterans. Veterans don’t expect the public to put veterans in front of all these other issues, but they do hope for awareness and advocacy for their needs, given the special trust put in them for what they do for their country and their state.

National Guard, Reserves, and Active Duty troops are being stressed to the limit. They are pulling their fair share and more in deployments, with perhaps the biggest deployments yet to come. Fully 1/3rd of returning war vets have mental disorders, including Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the percentage with lifetime disabilities is higher than in any previous war – because, thankfully, we are so much better at saving lives. Yet the cost for taking care of them will be with us for 50 years or more with many of them.

Many veterans that I talk to also believe this country is going the wrong way, and they also want this war to end quickly and responsibly.

· They want wisdom in the use of our best-in-the-world military, not arrogance.

· They want our sons and daughters in the military to be taken care of responsibly and responsively.

· They want our National Guard available for the state emergencies that will inevitably come.

· They want pre-emptive warfare considered as a last resort option (as it was during the Cold War), not a first resort.

· They want our country to restore its commitment to the Geneva Conventions and Habeas Corpus.

How about you? If you want the same things, don’t sit back cynically and say ‘they have forgotten us vets before, they will do it again.’ Get involved in the election. Email and phone your representatives. Make your voice known, and this time, let’s do it right for veterans.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link