Today is Veterans Day, honoring all past and present military veterans. For the first time this Veterans Day in about 20 years, we are not involved in a war. It might not seem important despite what happened in Afghanistan but it should be a painful reminder to what people did and continue to do.
I’m going to be honest and blunt. I think the reason a lot of people signed up following the Pearl Harbor attacks 80 years ago wasn’t because they felt their patriotic duty, but there still was a Great Depression going on and a lot of jobs were suddenly available. Why did people not sign up 25-30 years later in spades the way their parents and older relatives did during the Vietnam War? It’s simple. It was one of the most prosperous eras in America’s economy. Why should people risk a paying job at 18-19 to go be spend a year or two in a southeast Asian jungle?
Following the 9/11 attacks, there was a question of if we should re-instate the Conscription Act, aka military draft. It had stopped during the Vietnam War era mainly because too many college boys and former student athletes were being sent with others to serve unless they could find a way to get deferments. I heard that if you were an education major, you got an automatic deferment for as long as you were studying which explains the increase in male teachers in the 1970s. It also became apparent the draft wasn’t really sending a variety of young men, but mostly those from the lower-income inner cities and rural areas.
I remember Colin Powell said the Vietnam War made serving in the military unpopular. And why shouldn’t it? We still had judges who thought people who did a little hell-raising deserve to fight in wars over a foolish idea such as the spread of Communism through a Asian country that had pushed back against its European colonizers after decades of oppression.
Now, I’m not saying what the men who fought and died over there were wrong. The politicians who sent them over there were wrong. Most of the young men were still kids who couldn’t find Vietnam on a map. And despite what conservatives want to tell you, many of the anti-war protestors were Vietnam vets not wanting to see someone else’s kid or younger brother have to suffer the same horrors they did. They were labeled traitors, beaten up by police and even arrested.
Those who didn’t protest, got addicted to heroin or alcohol to dull the pain. They had bad marriages. Their injuries were treated with no one caring at VA hospitals where more money was spent on exotic fish in an oversized aquarium than the vets.
Thanks of a grateful nation, indeed.
I don’t think President George W. Bush would’ve survived through his first administration had the draft been re-instated. Eventually, people found out his family’s dealings with oil dealers and Osama bin Laden’s family. Bush and Dick Cheney were in the digital information age. It would’ve cost the Republicans both the 2002 and 2004 elections and they knew it.
So now, both the Iragi and Afghanistan Wars are over, even though no one really won. The Taliban, al-Qeada and ISIS/ISIL are still a threat.
I know a lot of people want to criticize President Joe Biden and the man does have his faults. Who doesn’t? I know it must have turned some military members’ stomachs to have to salute Trump. That wasn’t a thing until Ronald Reagan instituted it. And in my opinion, no matter who is President and what their military background is, it needs to stop.
We as voters need to only make sure our military is used when it’s absolutely necessary. It seems lately they’ve become more used as pseudo-police to protect oil fields in the Middle East. Maybe the switch to non-gasoline vehicles by 2050 will put a stop to that.
And they are underpaid. Just like the rest of us who work in the service industry or office settings, they are asked to do more for less. I remember one time I was overhearing some former military talking about how gullible they were, thinking they were going to get a big paycheck after basic training. But Uncle Sam had charged them for the room and board at basic training as well as their meals and clothing. Welcome to adulthood, soldiers! It sucks for all of us when you don’t have much at the end of the day.
For some people who are being tasked with fighting real dangerous forces, I think their take-home should be a little more. I definitely think they deserve more than the billions that is wasted on jets and tanks that are never used at all. The F-22 Raptor Jet was produced with $65-70 billion of taxpayers money but never was once used in combat. Lockheed manufactured it and to get it passed they picked parts from many states that were used so it created jobs in those states.
But let’s be serious! A lot of bigwigs got the winter cabins in Jackson Hole, Wyo. and Aspen, Colo. And those working to make those parts probably got laid off when the Raptor was no longer produced.
We really need to do more than make a post on social media every Nov. 11 and post a picture of ourselves, our parents, our spouses, etc. If we truly care for these people, we need to stop selecting the people who think they’re expendable and just a number in a deployment unit.
And lastly, one thing I’ve learned is how many of the service members don’t like the attention. You’ve heard of Stolen Valor, where people claim to have served to get discounts on coffee or meals, but many don’t make a big mention of it. And I think they see it just as something they did because they wanted to.