Honoring our troops on Veterans Day Means More than Waving a Flag Shouting USA! USA! USA!

soldierToday is Veterans Day which is a federal holiday. On this day we are supposed to honor those who have served in our military, give them a salute and pay them respects… As we seek to honor, my question is what does that really look like? Seems to me one has to do more than simply show up to a parade, wave placards at a football game or get teary eyed over heart string pulling TV commercial.Currently we have a military where the number of suicides now exceed the number of people who have died in combat…We have a military where we have a homeless veteran population that exceeds more than 100k..40% of the homeless vets are African-American. Why is that?We have a military where sexual assaults directed at both women and men are at alarming epidemic proportions. More than 30k sexual assaults were reported last year alone..More men have been sexually assaulted than women last year. As we honor our vets all of us should be asking How and why is this happening?

We need to be asking how is that many who are now returning can no longer afford homes in the neighborhoods and communities that theoretically they fought to save..Many have found it difficult to get work.

Many joined the military because they were already poor and were told by recruiters the military would prepare them and give them an illustrious career. For far too many that not only has not panned out, but we also had policy makers who say they loved the troops but refused to pass a job bill that would help them get on their feet last year. Why was that?

Many who have bravely served, have returned home having been forced to do 4 and 5 tours of duties. It wasn’t what they signed up to do that, but once in found the,selves forced to comply as the US has fought a number of endless wars rooted in what we now call the ‘War on Terror’.

The end result has been large numbers of young vets, many under 25, literally losing their minds. They have returned home with deep depressions They have PTSD. They have returned home feeling isolated and as a result have turned to drugs and alcohol to self medicate. Many simply do not know they have a problem or are too overwhelmed to seek help. Sadly others have no idea on how to get help. As we honor are vets we should be asking.. How and why is that happening?

In honoring our vets, our actions need to go beyond holding a flag and yelling USA! USA! USA!.. We need to honor them by checking ourselves and reflecting on what types of policies we support and what sort of people are we putting into office. We need to be reflecting on what sorts of decisions we are allowing to happen on our collective watch.

soldier hands in faceSuch action steps are not limited to ‘civilians’. It also applies to Vets themselves who see themselves as ones having a sound mind and spirit…How are you supporting people and policies who put your fellow brothers and sisters in uniform in increased dire straits vs lessening them? How are you supporting policy makers who by their own admission won’t allow their own children to serve?

It’s hard to understand how one can claim to be honoring those who serve while supporting politicians who have voted to cut pay and scale back on economic safety nets and resources for vets. It’s not like the military doesn’t have money. Those same policy makers have no problem in increasing the pentagons budget and allowing so-called contractors and the companies they work for like Halliburton, KBR, Dyncorp and Bechtel to make records amount of money. The top 100 military contractors clock in 6.5 BILLION dollars a day.. Sit back and reflect on that for minute or two.

Some of the politicians many vets and non vets alike have supported were among those who sat back and allowed contracted soldiers to make 200k a year with all the bells and whistles while leaving veterans who we are supposed to be honoring today short-changed for body armor, resulting in average folks doing cup cake sales and selling raffle for fundraisers..

That’s not honoring veterans…That’s exploiting.. That’s not honoring, that’s paying lip service and in many ways being outright selfish and extremely shortsighted..

In honoring our vets we are to call into question policies that put them harms way. There should be no ten plus year war in Afghanistan that has kept young men and women on the battle field longer than any other troops that have served in the past. There should not be drone strikes in foreign lands where innocent civilians are killed which results in entire populations wanting to bring us much harm to our men and women in uniform as possible. We should not be violating Geneva conventions and torturing folks. Such policies will ensure that happens to any of our troops that fall into the hands of the enemy..

We should not have policies that result in the wholesale slaughter, rape and pillaging of people in particular women and children..such demunanizing treatment is not easily erased from one’s minds.. Many return home having seen or been directly involved in such atrocious actions. Many go on to become cops in increasingly militarized departments and correction officers who see fellow Americans as enemies to be engaged, conquered and tortured vs uplifted, protected and rehabilitated

The best way to honor our vets this Veterans Day is not blindly follow and cheer lead policies that are profitable for mega corporations who are more interested in making a bottom line than saving lives here or abroad.

We best honor our vets by fighting for policies that’ll end war and bring home our troops so they can be around for friends, families and loved ones. We honor our vets by making sure they get the medical and psychological help they need so they can be made whole.. We best honor our vets by fostering a culture of peace and understanding, not war, torture and mayhem…We best honor our troops by making sure they are no longer political tools and photo ops for the rich and powerful but instead viable young men and women who really deserve a shot at life free of conflict..

written by -Davey D-

PS. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Civilian Soldier Alliance are launching a social media campaign to shift the dialogue around this Veteran’s day. They feel it needs to be broadened.. For more info check out their site at http://www.ivaw.org/blog/veteransday-social-media-dialogue-broadening-conversation-war-home-and-abroad



On Veterans Day Lets Do More than a Parade to Thank Our Troops

November 11 2012: Today is Veterans Day..It’s a day where we take time out and honor all those who’ve served in the military and basically thank them for their service and sacrifice… I think its important we thank those who’ve served our country, but our thanks should go beyond a handshake, a pat on the back and a parade.

How about we say thank you to our men and women in uniform by making sure they have healthcare and proper benefits that are not caught up in Congressional red tape or attached to some draconian pork belly provision by an overzealous lawmaker trying to score points and using the military as a shield or political football?

In other words, there should be no homeless Veterans, but there are plenty, I see them all time and all over. There should be no joblessness amongst our Veterans but today we have close to a million who have no job. There are some in the Senate who who will attend Veteran Day parades, but won’t sign a bill that’ll put a billion dollars into a Veterans job program..You can read about that HERE

There should be no substance abuse amongst our Veterans. Sadly its pervasive amongst those on and off the battlefield. There should be no mental health challenges amongst our Veterans but thanks to our collective refusal to own up to this happening and put in place proper resources to help those who are ailing, we now have that as a challenge. Veterans committing suicide have now surpassed those we lost in combat . You can read about here in the NY Times.

How about we thank our troops by removing them from having to make sacrifices due to unnecessary war and conflict? We should have our troops here at home or around the world skilled in true humanitarian missions of providing food, shelter and clothing during natural disasters, not doing ‘humanitarian’ efforts as defined by unwarranted regime change where soldiers are forced to serve 4 and 5 tours of duty with the only real beneficiaries being big multinational corporations connected to the military industrial complex that pushed for it.

There are those who have served our country who have come to recognize that their sacrifice and skills sets were being dishonored and misused by those in power. There are veterans who have come to recognize that they were in foreign lands because of lies. As a result they have  stood up and spoke out. These men and women have recognized that they weren’t fighting for freedom, but instead fighting to secure resources and score political points that would be only helpful to the global 1%. Those troops who recognized this misleading effort and stepped up and called foul, really deserve our thanks.

We thank those men and women who served, who kept it 100, even if it meant being discharged, ostracized or jailed..These men and women made the sacrifice to keep their humanity in the forefront and speak out when they saw injustice or monstrous behavior being done in our name. We should thank those who have been willing to blow the whistle on us breaking international law for committing horrendous acts like torturing prisoners, committing acts of rape or discounting the humanity of those they fought. We honor those who put down the gun and sword and picked up the dove and threw up a peace sign because they recognized that war is not always the answer..

written by Davey D