When I think of Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day, I feel ambivalent. I am so proud of those men and women who were willing to sacrifice their lives for our country but at the same time I feel guilty that they were asked to.
They are told that they serve to protect the rest of us here at home. These recent wars just seem to me like a way to make tons of money for a very few and a way to waste tons of money for the rest of us. And the waste of money doesn't hold a candle to the waste of human lives that results. That's the real sin! And we’re told not to question it because if we do, we are being unpatriotic. Some who tried hard to enlighten us that these wars are unnecessary are paying the price for it many years later.
To thank our veterans for their service we must do everything we can to make sure their lives are not permanently affected by their having made that sacrifice even though there are many things we can’t make better. We can make sure they have the chance for an education or the training needed to get a good job. Make sure they have help in dealing with any physical or mental conditions that having been involved in war caused and that should include anything and everything. We should make sure they don’t have to continue to sacrifice for the rest of their lives.
Like so many others in this country, I don’t know anyone who served in one of the recent wars. I wasn’t personally affected by their sacrifices. When it’s not in our face, it’s easy to ignore or forget about the problems that war has caused.
In one way, I did see some. Providing medical care in a correctional facility, I did meet veterans who I thought were victims of their service. Some were in for violent crimes that I thought were very likely the result of being taught to be a warrior. Many more were in for drug or alcohol abuse that I was pretty dang sure was the result of the mental strains of their war experience.
There were times when I felt I could use help from the VA but when I asked a veteran, who I knew was very knowledgeable about the VA, I was told that the VA won’t help when a veteran is incarcerated. I couldn’t believe that but I checked it out and he was correct. It’s not like a person stops being a veteran when he/she goes to jail, and it’s especially heinous when the veteran’s incarceration and/or medical/psychological issues was most likely the result of their service.
So veterans…it’s your day today. We are very proud of your service and I hope when we all say that today, we are willing to put our money where our mouths are. When this country goes to war, we all should have to pay a price for it. And I pray that we all do everything we can to see to it that there are less people who are called to make that sacrifice.