Shortchanging America's Veterans

The noted French statesman Georges Clemenceau stated, quite succinctly, "Military justice is to justice as military music is to music". The history of the American military veterans has been a symphony of proof to the veracity of that truism. Very few other nations in history has treated its veterans and servicemen more poorly than America.

From the Civil War on through the so-called Gulf War, we have used, abused and then discarded those whom our "leaders" have sent to fight and die for the principles which we as a nation claim to hold so dear.

The veterans of the Civil War found their government refusing to honor any of the promises that were made during the conflict. Back pay never was paid, medical treatment for war injuries was refused and even the recognition of the government for a job well done was withheld from these saviors of the union.

The Spanish-American War and World War One both witnessed the same government lies and maltreatment. As was usual, as soon as the need for warm bodies to put in harm's way was over, those who had fought and those who were wounded were quickly forgotten in Congress and the White House.

Finally, the period after World War Two saw a nation thankful for the efforts of their citizens at war. These troops returned to find the GI Bill as their reward. This act allowed these men and women to begin the process of catching up to the successes of those who stayed at home. They were given assistance in education and help in buying that all important first home for their growing families. Even when they were searching for that job which would allow them to chase whatever their American Dream consisted of, they were given precedence over those who had not served, not risked their lives and bodies for the fragile ideal of freedom. (Now, of course, the Republicans would destroy such a program as a "quota system" or "preferential treatment" or "discriminatory against those who could afford not to serve".)

The Viet Nam veterans were the final group to be covered under that GI Bill. It was, in the eyes of many, a very small reward that only slightly offset the hatred and indifference that America displayed when these warriors returned home. Nevertheless, many of these veterans happily availed themselves of these programs in hopes that their lives might someday mean something, again. They earned an education or just went out and found a job, trying to fit back into a society which they no longer recognized. They bought their homes, many only to see them be foreclosed during Wall Street's massive and profit driven lay-offs of the eighties and nineties.

Those men and women who served in the unnecessary Gulf War have possibly fared the worst of all. Their government lied openly and often about these warrior's exposure to poisonous gases and even about the drugs that the military forced into the soldier's very veins. Even when overwhelming proof of these horrible lies came to light, the pentagon's answer to its veterans was to "lose" every document even slightly pertinent to the problem and to fire the individuals who refused to lie to our veterans. This does nothing but suggest that our government was lying at an even higher level than first supposed.

But, then again, that isn't all that surprising, now is it? The only conspiracy theory which is absolutely true is that our government has been bought and sold by those who can afford them and that these clowns will do whatever they want to whomever they want. Honest politicians are to integrity what military intelligence is to wisdom.

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Copyright 11/15/97