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Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Veterans

The fact that this even needs to be addressed is disgusting to me. Honestly. The first thing that I always think when I see an ad to raise money for disabled veterans is, "Why is this a charity?" Like of all of the things that our country's taxes are responsible for, taking tremendous care of those who protect and fight for us should be at the top. There should be no need for people to raise funds for the men and women that we have sent off to fight and come home injured or harmed in any way. It makes me cry when I see the commercials of families who are readjusting to a life around their loved one who is altered for life. We did that. We Americans did that. We elected people who elected to go to war and elected not to fund the care of those men and women when they got home.

People join the military for many reasons. They want structure, education, or maybe an opportunity to defend the country. It doesn't matter why they do it. The fact is they sign up. They meet with a recruiter and sign documents to devote their lives, for the next several years or for its remainder, to protecting my country. I love her. I want her protected. I wish they were protecting her from here. And from ally countries. And from ships off of the coasts of countries we want to keep an eye on. I wish that was all that our military was needed for. Sadly, we have been in perpetual war for many years. And protecting my country is a scary undertaking. Signing up today means you have a good chance of going to war. It means you are going to see action. If you want to get an education after having served, you sign up knowing you may not come back. Or, if you do, you may have a serious injury, physical or otherwise. That is such a profound commitment and it is unacceptable that we can allow their care to not be an imperative upon their return.

That is where my country fails. We fail because we elect 'representatives' who are always very anxious to go to war. Any war, it seems. But every time they are offered an opportunity to take care of our military men and women when they get home, they reject it. How is it acceptable to come up with billions of dollars to pay for contracts to build an arsenal many times larger than any other country, but it is not a priority to come up with the monies needed to take care of our soldiers once they get home?  It is beyond my comprehension. But people don't pay attention to the way they are voting when they get to DC.

The right is still stuck on telling their constituents that they are the ones who care about the military and our vets. And people continue to couple the party and the military in their minds. There is a big difference between supporting the military, which on the right means passing every bill to initiate war or fund endeavors to strengthen our arsenal, and caring for those in the military. It doesn't seem like the right are interested in taking care of our soldiers or our veterans. I was stunned when I heard the right condemn the President for wanting to attempt diplomacy with Iran and determine, before having any idea what is in the plan, the only resolution is war. That means lives. That means men and women are being sent to war. It is not just a declaration. It is a huge commitment. Of human beings. And, I dare say, after nearly 15 constant years in battle, they are probably pretty much spent by now. And the followers on the right are rallying behind that idea. Why? Why do you want to go to war again? How could anyone not want to first try diplomacy when the alternative means that Americans will certainly die? It is patriotic to support our troops. It is not patriotic to support those in Congress who would really just like to be in a constant state of war. A differentiation seems to be lost in there somewhere.

Thankfully, I have never been to war. But as an empathetic person, I can certainly understand that many would certainly suffer from PTSD. And I imagine that having come back with emotional issues from an experience that is supposed to be the most valiant of endeavors is hard to talk about.  For many, being a soldier means you are tough and strong. I fear for those who, after having returned, are unable to seek help for fear of letting that strength go. I believe having seen and done what war requires is hard for any person with a soul. War is unnatural. It is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable in one way or another. It is honorable to come home and admit that it was hard and haunts you. It means you have a soul. Your family wants you that way. It is okay to get help. You can do it secretly. I obviously don't know shit about it. But these guys do. Please click here for an amazing support system.
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The idea of millions of homeless in America is bad enough, but to understand that many are veterans and it kind of makes it harder. They fought for this country and were then offered such care upon return that they ended up on the streets. Maybe they came home with PTSD. Maybe they ended up with a drinking problem. Maybe they ended up with anger issues and they ended up getting kicked out of their house. These were all opportunities to care for our veterans that our VA missed. I, personally, have a sick conspiracy theory that those on the right are deliberately allowing the VA to go to shit so it can be privatized and more millionaires can become billionaires. But I am also aware that some of my conspiracies are a little looney and I can't always determine which are which. Anyway ...

Last May the First Lady launched a Mayors Challenge to 300 mayors across the country. They were told to have homes for the 50,000 homeless veterans in America by the end of 2015.  Last year Salt Lake City and Phoenix had found homes for every one of their homeless veterans. In January, New Orleans moved the last known homeless veteran into housing. I got chills typing that. It can be done. The fact that so many of these vets have been chronically homeless and dealing with mental illnesses and addictions since Vietnam is beyond tragic.

The VA is finally starting to do something about  the homelessness of so many veterans. They are beginning with the 25 cities with the largest populations of homeless veterans. Last year from March to August, they had already found housing for 10,000 veterans. The beauty of this program is that it doesn't just offer them a bed. They are given guidance and resources to help them acclimate back into society. That is such a profound transition. You cant just say "here's a bed - get a job." Whatever the issue was that made them homeless needs to be addressed, too. And they are doing that. If you know of someone who might be helped by this initiative, the information can be found here.

The right have all kinds of ideas of what it means to be a Liberal. I couldn't give a shit what they think about me. Whatever they want to think is fine. I don't need my liberalism defined by anyone else. The thing that I am nailed with every day, though, is this bullshit that I think soldiers are baby killers. You don't get to speak for me motherfucker. I am a Liberal. The beauty of being over here on the left is that I get to think for myself. I don't have to be force fed my talking points and become confused over their contradictions. My beliefs may conflict with others in my party and I don't need to apologize for it. Some people who are extreme on the left say shit about soldiers. I have no use for them and tell them that whenever I am given the opportunity. I love soldiers and veterans. I documented my sincere respect for soldiers in this blog and don't think I need to defend myself beyond that. And fuck anyone who thinks they get to define my loyalties to them.

I am a little disgusted with myself because I am making a partisan issue about something that should, inherently, be universal. I apologize. I want everyone to be pissed off and contact their elected official, whichever party, and demand their support every time you see that the Wounded Warrior Project support a bill. Blow up their phones or fax lines. Send emails. Pester them on Twitter or on their Facebook page. Whatever. Make sure that everyone knows that they are being given an opportunity to care for our veterans and make sure when they vote that everyone knows how they voted. You can go here to see who voted for and against. If they were forced to be accountable by all of us they could not sneak around and do this shit.

I have only heard good things about the Wounded Warrior Project. But there are many other great groups out there working for the care of our veterans. For no other reason than its April and the rain smelled fresh today, please go here and donate something in the name of a soldier you know or love.
Kisses All Around ...


  1. Yes, Yes yes. When I started writing my series about military heroes who have a passion for helping others, I researched and became overwhelmed with the need that STILL exists TODAY for our veterans, and wounded vets and their families. I kept thinking I'll write this and find out these issues have been solved. But no, they are worse. Fortunately, they are starting to get some press due to the hard work and dedication of some of these organizations but it's not enough. And who should be doing it instead of backing away from the responsibility? their employer, the US govt. It's appalling. GREAT post.


    1. You make me smile every day! Thank you so much for your support, Livia! :)