From the heroes of WWII, to the disrespected veterans of the Vietnam War, to the oil and terrorism war veterans of today, our young men and women have continued to die on foreign soil.
Some wars have proven to have a greater connection to reality and the greater good than others, but our soldiers are just as dead either way.
Of all the wars of the last century, only WWII stands out as a war of necessity. It was the war that stopped a truly evil empire, Fascism. This was the only war that was justified after all the facts were in.
Does that make the soldiers who died in all the other wars and skirmishes any less honorable? The simple answer is no; blame for war does not fall on the soldier who served his country, but on the reprobates who sent them in our good name. We rightfully separate the honorable dead from the dishonorable politicians who ordered their deaths, to produce little or no respectable gain for country or humanity. We must honor and respect their courage and their commitment, even when we do not agree with the action taken, because we know that they had no choice.
As an era veteran who lived through the Vietnam war period and its horrific displays of public disrespect for returning soldiers, I find it comforting that we are again able to place the blame for war on the backs of politicians, not the young men they misuse.
In the post-WWII period, war history has proven President Eisenhower’s Military Industrial Complex warning repeatedly. We no longer fight wars for the great cause of democracy—we fight wars for the profits of the rich. The only small benefit veterans see are the wages they receive from the war industries. As these profiteers rake in trillions of our tax dollars, veterans get pennies on the dollar and a pat on the back for a job well done. Yet, for most of us, the senseless murder of women and children has left us disillusioned at best.
As Americans, we see half our national budget going into our military, which is more than any other industrialized country. We must rightfully ask: why? We have over 800 military installations around the world, more than twice as many as any other country. Yet we can’t afford adequate health care for our veterans, let alone the rest of the population. How does this secure our nation?
We see 22 veterans a day committing suicide, more than a million of them homeless and living on the street. We see America’s vicious racism attacking our veterans with utter disrespect for their service. We see them being the repeated targets of police brutality and incarceration, rather than getting the medical help they have earned. We see them overmedicated and addicted at higher rates than ever before as a way of hiding their problems from the public. Many of us believe we owe them much more than just a show of respect. Many of us believe respect means doing our best to make them as whole again as possible, without having to fight to accomplish this.