Usually at this time of year, I dedicate a blog post to U.S. veterans of foreign conflicts as an homage to their dedication, patriotism, and sacrifice. It’s a bit odd for me, not having served in the military myself. I think it’s simply a matter of trying to pay back what little I can within the realization that the sacrifice they made was to the benefit of all of us.
This year though, I will diverge a bit to recognize a very special class of veteran, the disabled veteran. Those who came home from conflicts with horrible wounds that left them significantly disabled for life.
Tonight (November 10) at 9:00 PM EST (2100 HRS EST) PBS will air the premiere of Debt of Honor, a documentary that looks into the history of America’s disabled vets.
Disabled veterans hold a unique place in the history of veterans in the United States, one that palpably illustrates the human cost of war, and speaks to the enormous sacrifices of military service. Debt of Honor examines the way in which the American government and society as a whole have regarded disabled veterans throughout history, beginning in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War through today’s continuing conflicts in the Middle East.
Many of us consider the issue of disabled veterans to be a recent phenomena, the result of political scandal over the management of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The problem came to the forefront of American politics largely due to the neglect of veterans recently disabled from present day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But instead of sitting here, trying to blame one President or another for the problems they rightfully have responsibility for, I’d like to take a different tack today.
The problems faced by veterans in all walks of like, from those suffering not at all to those able to function physically but unable to psychologically due to the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to those horribly disfigured and only permitted to function through the graces of modern medical science once they return from protecting us is no one’s fault but our own!
We own it, because so many of us simply do not care enough. If we care enough about it and make it a serious National issue, potential Presidents and all sorts of politicos would find import in the issue. We allow politicians to skirt the issue because we skirt the issue.
I make no bones about the aspect that many politicians might only care because we MAKE them care about it. Who really cares what selfish motivation we might instill in our politicians, if it gets the job done? Self-interest – particularly in politicians – can be an extremely lucrative motivator. So let’s put it to use!
Take the challenge … The next time you have a chance to speak to your Congressional Representative or a local politician with a potentially promising future in National Politics, don’t ask them first about Jobs, the Economy, Immigration, Gay Marriage, or their views on the Rights of gun owners, minority members of society, or the 1%. Ask them FIRST about what they would do to improve the lives of disabled veterans in their own districts, or how they would address disabled veteran care during their next term in Washington, D.C., or what they might do to fix the problems at the Veterans Administration.
If you can’t wait that long (and certainly there is no time to wait), write them a letter and demand an answer from them that matters. Do not take “no” or a lot of fluff as an answer. Press the issue and press it hard.
With 11 months until the Presidential election, much hay could also be made by constantly asking our POTUS candidates what they will do in their first days in office to address the problems faced by disable veterans across the country!
The only way we can make this problem go away is by making it The Constant Problem of every politician we elect, especially those we send to Washington, D.C.!