This post comes from westernjournalism.com
America has done a deplorable job of caring for her veterans.
by John W. Whitehead
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”—John F. Kennedy
Just in time for Memorial Day, we’re once again being treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians and corporations eager to go on record as being supportive of our veterans. Patriotic platitudes aside, however, America has done a deplorable job of caring for her veterans. We erect monuments for those who die while serving in the military; yet for those who return home, there’s little honor to be found.
Despite the fact that the U.S. boasts more than 23 million veterans who have served in World War II through Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the plight of veterans today is deplorable, with large numbers of them impoverished; unemployed; traumatized mentally and physically; struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide, and marital stress; homeless (a third of all homeless Americans are veterans); subjected to sub-par treatment at clinics and hospitals; and left to molder while their paperwork piles up within Veterans Administration (VA) offices.
According to the National Veterans Foundation, the VA has had a backlog of as many as 1.2 million unprocessed claims in recent years, in addition to the fraud and mismanagement within the VA and its network of offices across the country–and secret lists containing thousands of names of veterans who were forced to wait months just to see a doctor.
While President Obama has now declared that he “will not stand” for the mistreatment of veterans under his watch, the time for words is long past. As Slate political correspondent John Dickerson observed, these inexcusable delays represent “a failure of one of the most basic transactions government is supposed to perform: keeping a promise to those who were asked to protect our very form of government.”
Then again, as I detail in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the government has been breaking its promises to the American people for a long time now, starting with its most sacred covenant to uphold and defend the Constitution. Yet if the government won’t abide by its commitment to respect our constitutional rights to be free from government surveillance and censorship, if it completely tramples on our right to due process and fair hearings, and if it routinely denies us protection from roadside strip searches and militarized police, why should anyone expect the government to treat our nation’s veterans with respect and dignity?
Indeed, in recent years, military servicemen and women—many of whom are decorated—have found themselves increasingly targeted for surveillance and censorship, threatened with incarceration or involuntary commitment, labeled as extremists and/or mentally ill, and stripped of their Second Amendment rights, all for daring to voice their concerns about the alarming state of our union and the erosion of our freedoms.
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