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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Memorial Day: The Thank You That Matters

Category: Veterans
Posted: 05/26/14 02:55

by Dave Mindeman

"Thank you for your service."

You hear a lot of that these days. People want to say something to our service people to show their appreciation. And it is sincere. Its not like the days of Vietnam - when the people's mistrust of government wrongly targeted the real victims of that war, our service men and women.

We do appreciate the sacrifice of our armed forces. And we appreciate, as well, the sacrifice of their families. The videos of reunions when one of our own comes home are filled with emotions that resonate with everyone.

But a simple "thank you" is not enough.

We take several tours of duty from these patriots - months and years of their lives in combat zones. Sometimes we take physical parts of them - sometimes we take part of their mental well being. These are terrible prices to pay for duty, honor, and country.

We need priorities that are commensurate with the price they have paid for that service.

We need to concentrate on the people. To make sure their health care is met completely. That their education needs are fully funded. That their ability to get a job is met with every conceivable facilitation. That their families' needs are always met.

And it must be people over hardware. Planes and ships and tanks that the army does not want or need have to be eliminated whenever it is within our means to do so and move that funding to our men and women in uniform.

There is hard evidence that we have failed our fighting forces on a particular front. The VA has failed them in health care. So we must fix it immediately. A Republican suggested that we give them vouchers that can be used outside the Veteran's Administration system. That is a good idea and I think implementing that is in the works.

We can investigate the wrongdoing as we go - but it is much more important to fix the problem now. So lets find a way to do it.

When it comes to veterans, there should not be partisan sides. There should only be the vets side - we all stand with them.

Thanking them for their service is a good and proper thing to do. But let's do more. Let's give them what they need to make coming home complete.

On this Memorial Day, let's demand a call to action on Vet issues. That is the thank you that matters.
comments (1) permalink

A True Thank You To Veterans

Category: Veterans
Posted: 11/11/13 11:39

by Dave Mindeman

I lived in the Vietnam era. I wasn't called up....I had a high lottery number, but I had to think about what I would do if I had been drafted. One friend of mine flat out stated he would go to Canada. He never had to really make that choice and I'm not sure how that would have played out. Over the years, he turned conservative...which has an irony of its own.

But I think about Veterans a lot. My father-in-law talked about his stint in WWII....well, he talked about some of it. He never talked much about the combat part. He was in the Quartermaster corps and one of his toughest assignments was to clean up the aftermath on the Normandy beaches after D-Day. Those were not long conversations. His eyes would trail off in the distance when he would think about it. Mostly he talked about his buddies and their relationships, but not much about what he did.

My uncle served in WWII as well. He was involved with the Italian campaign and was severely wounded at Anzio. He came back a very broken man. He turned to alcohol to drown out the constant pain. He never really recovered and died of cancer after a troubled life.

We take our American life for granted. Too much. These men and women who serve their country deserve better than we are giving them. Those that serve consider politics a secondary matter. They focus on the job and what needs to be done. And they do it - unlike their political representatives.

And how do we reward them? Oh, we think we are giving them health care and an education and other benefits. But are we really paying them back for doing a job that can cost them their lives and their livelihood?

I see disability backlogs at the VA. I see veterans coming back to unemployment when we promised them they could come back to their jobs. I see veterans who are homeless and hungry. I see endless reams of paperwork involving simple benefits. I see mental health inadequacy for so many with post traumatic stress disorders.

On this Veterans Day, let's not just thank them for their "service". Thank them for their incredible sacrifice and thank them with a goal of meeting their needs right now...today.

Sometimes I think that we should just implement an across the board "Hero Tax" in which we take 1% of everybody's income in the entire nation and earmark it only for the needs of our veterans. Make sure they get every bit of health care required. Every educational benefit deserved. And every piece of dignity that can be afforded.

Our veterans are not just a cog in the military industrial complex...they are our dads and moms, brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers. When called upon they said YES, an unequivocal YES. They sacrificed more than we had a right to ask.

So on this Veteran's Day...let's not just thank them - let's see to it that we do what we can to repay them.
comments (1) permalink


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