For some reason I'm most deeply moved when ever I hear reporting about the situation of military veterans. I just listened to last week's podcast of Bill Moyers Journal hosted by Deborah Amos, which ended with a piece acknowledging Veteran's Day. At the end, I literally shed a tear.
I think my emotions relate to my sense of injustice. This is a sentiment that moves me on most issues, including the shaft the common working person is experiencing with an economic system that has been tilted in favor of the elite and a bailout that is also tilted that way.
Many military people aren't informed about the political factors that determine their fate. Some do, however, take the time to learn what Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler learned. They learn that most members of the military are pawns in a rich man's game. But that's not the theme of this essay.
Deborah Amos asked: "How should the rest of us who don't serve in the military honor the service of those who do?" She posed the question to veterans, and here are their responses.
JOHN CAMPBELL: Once the parades are over, then what happens? How do you fill in? How do you really continue to bring support for people that feel, in a lot of ways, so isolated? That's what we really think we're missing is this sense of community.
ANDREW ROBERTS: Putting the yellow ribbon in the window is great, but that's not supporting the troops. Right now- you know, if you look at World War II, there was all sorts of different things that were going on. There were little kids were running around collecting the rubber off their pencils to contribute to the war in some way. To support the troops in some way. And you just don't see that going on right now.
CARLOS LEON: First thing they could do is go to your local VA's and volunteer, or just go to say "hi" to a veteran. For a guy that's laying, or for a woman, that's laying in bed and can't really do much, and a total stranger comes by and says "I just wanted to come by and say good afternoon or good morning," that's a big deal.
DREW BROWN: Even just a handshake. Just "hey man, welcome home, and thank you for your service." That usually is enough. That warms my heart more than you know. And it's a huge thing, because veterans always feel this sense of separation from the society that they protect.
If you just take that little bit of time, you know, to just write a letter or, you know, get a care package or put little things in like, you know, a comic book for some of the guys or, you know, a magazine, that's more than enough. And it's very well appreciated.
KRISTEN ROUSE: A really important lesson that I learned in the military, is that you have to help people where you can. If you can do something for somebody, then do it. Whether that be, you know, serving the public in one way or another, military service, community service, political service, medical ser--, you know, whatever it is that you can do to help other people in this country and in other countries too.
ANDREW ROBERTS: There are many organizations out there that really work very hard, every single day, to support the troops in some capacity.
Sometimes just being a member of those organizations makes them more powerful. That's supporting the troops. That's actually doing something.
GENEVIEVE CHASE: The best thing people can do is be aware. Pick up the newspaper and read about what's going on.
ROMAN BACA: So many children are uneducated about the military, and I have kids walking up to me all the time and say "You're in the military? What's it like? What'd you do? Did you shoot somebody?" Parents need to get involved and educate their kids about a lot more.
ANDREW ROBERTS: I mean, I haven't even heard a call to service to join the military at all. So I think that that's an important first step to help galvanize the American population.
DON BUZNEY: I know when I came back from Vietnam, I was told that I could not be hired because I'd spent four years in the military. And my civilian counterparts had more civilian-type experience.
So, overcome that. Recognize the talent, the skills, the training that the men and women in uniform have and they bring back to. So, find a veteran. Give them a hug, and find them a job.
GENEVIEVE CHASE: I really encourage Americans who can to take a minute to write a letter to their congressman or to their senator, and say, "Can you please remember our vets?"
ANDREW ROBERTS: We just have to continue to remind our leaders that these are our veterans, and they've made tremendous, tremendous sacrifices for our nation. They ask for very little in return. But we owe it to them to make sure that we get them what they need when they come back.
Bill Moyers Journal, Honoring Our Veterans, November 14, 2008.
Originally posted on GDAEman Blog
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