Veterans should be better respected and their service valued

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.

One thought on “Veterans should be better respected and their service valued

  • daniel sebold

    I am writing to you from Bangkok. I am a 91 Gulf War veteran and MSU alumnus who has been expatriated for the past twenty-five years. I have lived in such countries as Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Oman and have traveled many dozens more on all continents. The KSA (Saudi Arabia) and the USA share far more in common than what most Americans realize: both countries suffer from religious extremism. Religious extremists control America’s public educational system. Most elementary school teachers in America are creationists who believe the world is six thousand years old and that Jesus is coming soon to save us from global warming and economic collapse. The Pearson’s middle school science book, used nationwide, doesn’t even have the word “evolution” in it. I have met teachers from Oregon who teach middle school science and all they have are English degrees. I have degrees in English and Spanish but for some strange reason I am certified to teach middle school science in the state of Iowa (I didn’t realize this until a few years ago when I read the fine print at the bottom.) America’s religious extremism lies in its nationalism and the right wing Christianity of its deep state and its military. Soldiers are brainwashed into believing that they are fighting for God and country and that they are getting revenge for 911 when they are sent into places like Al Falujah to slaughter every man, woman and child. (I am sure any American history professor will know where Al Falujah or Mosul, or Mai Lai is and can point to them on a map.) I recently ran into an American woman in Cambodia who said that Obama was a great president because he kept us out of war. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that he had seven wars going on at one time during his presidency and the American press wasn’t covering most of them, including the one I found myself in in Jazan Province, KSA, two years ago where Scuds were exploding above my hotel thirty miles north of the Yemen border in Saudi Arabia. When soldiers come home from war and slowly realize the terrible war crimes they have committed for God and capitalism, when they realize that there is no help for them–I was involved in the targeting of water filtration plants around Basra Iraq during the ’91 Gulf War, a terrorist act which killed over a half million children from dysentery over the next ten years after the war (look up Basra on Human Rights Watch)–you come to the realization that you don’t belong back there anymore.

    Daniel Sebold, former US Navy Arabic Cryptologist


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