Memorial Day is the one day of the year many Americans take the time to honor our fallen veterans. This year I would like to propose that all Americans go further, and make every effort to save our living veterans.
By the way, I am well aware that Veteran’s Day is meant to honor living veterans. And that Memorial Day is meant to honor those who have given their lives for our freedom. On Memorial Day I will honor those departed warriors – and I hope you will, as well. There is not much we can do for our departed heroes, other than keeping their memories alive. But there is much that can – and should – be done for our living veterans. Vast numbers of them who are no longer on active duty are in crisis – and our nation is doing little to help them.
America has always been divided – and it always will be. Some think that’s a bad thing. I think that’s good – as long as you are on the righteous side of the divide. There will always be ignorant, malicious people who want to silence others and trample on their freedoms. If we weren’t divided, that would mean we were tolerating their repressive, totalitarian agenda.
Look at our founding. Half of America stood for freedom from oppression. The other half stood with the oppressors. Whether for convenience, monetary gain or just out of fear, many in the thirteen British colonies preferred to remain slaves to a tyrannical king. King George III dictated to us and stole our labor from his throne thousands of miles from our shores. But we when we study American history we hear very little about the people in the colonies who stood with the king.
What about World War II? Half of America didn’t want to get involved with what they called “The Europeans’ War.” While millions around the world were dying at the hands of brutal dictators, they chose to hide their heads in the sand and hope that if we stayed out of the war, the Nazis and the Japanese would leave us alone. The other half knew that Germany and Japan would undoubtedly come for us next. It took Pearl Harbor to convince the cowards.
I could give dozens of other general examples, but you get the idea. So let’s talk about American contrasts with regard to our veterans.
I joined the Marine Corps in 1966 right after graduating from High School. This was in the midst of the Viet Nam War. By God’s grace, I was never sent overseas, but many of my buddies from Boot Camp did – and they came back in boxes.
Half of America, led by traitors like Jane Fonda, spat on them when they returned home and called them “baby killers”. Those haters are today Liberal Senators & Congressmen, university professors and “community organizers.” They were Communist sympathizers then (in case you don’t know your history, our enemy was Communist North Vietnam, which was supported by Communist China) and they are Communists or Socialists today.
The other half of America honored the brave men and women who defended freedom and tried to help them get their lives together after the horrific experience of seeing many of their friends slaughtered in guerilla warfare. Today they are Conservative Senators & Congressmen, Christian ministers, and citizens who work for a living.
I am heartened to see that – on the surface, at least – the tide has turned regarding the way we treat our veterans. In public places we see American patriots take the time to thank the men and women who protect our freedoms for their service. We see news reports about ordinary people giving their seats in First Class to honor military personnel. (Sadly, a university professor who witnessed one such incident said it made him want to throw up. Apparently, he believed that the young soldier was the one who caused all the wars.)
This Memorial Day weekend many great things are happening that encourage me. Teenagers are giving up their Saturday to place flags on the graves of fallen soldiers. Dale Earnhardt, America’s greatest NASCAR competitor, and the other 39 drivers in this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 Race, have painted the names of military personnel who gave their lives at the top of their windshields where the driver’s name is usually painted. Solemn tributes are planned at veteran’s cemeteries all over the nation.
Many towns and cities have Memorial Day parades, many of which will end with a memorial service. These are usually led by the few World War II veterans who are still with us, followed by Korean War vets, Vietnam vets, and veterans of the more recent conflicts in the Middle East. However, if you live in a city with a Liberal mayor, don’t be surprised to find that our fallen heroes are not honored. Mayor Bill DeBlasio has no Memorial Day parade planned in Manhattan (although some of the other boroughs are ignoring him and holding parades anyway).
But ironically the Democrat mayor will be marching in the Puerto Rico Day parade next week, which will honor a terrorist convicted of 100 bombings. Oscar Lopez Rivera led a group that admitted to the bombings and murders. He was released almost 20 years early by Obama in the last days of his presidency. The police commissioner, the police and fire unions, and many of the parade’s former sponsors have said they will not participate. But DeBlasio, who is courting the Puerto Rican vote, will be at the head of the parade.
So, as seems to be our fate, half of America will honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day. The other half don’t seem to have a clue about the important holiday. Jesse Waters, in one of his famous series of interviews with college students, asked these future leaders of our country what Memorial Day celebrated. Most thought it was just a long weekend so they could go to the beach and eat hot dogs.
Is our nation equally divided when it comes to our veterans? As I mentioned earlier, I am heartened when I see that the hatred shown towards our Vietnam troops is not being shown toward our current service members – at least openly. On the surface, we see groups – mostly private ones – doing effective work that supports our returning heroes. The nation spends billions on the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and VA medical centers that is well-intentioned, but unfortunately less effective.
But there is a dark side to the way America treats its veterans today, and the Liberal news media has largely ignored it. Veterans make up over 25% of the homeless in America, yet only 7% of Americans are veterans. Why are veterans 3.5 times more likely than other Americans to be homeless?
We have all heard of the hundreds of veterans who have died waiting for appointments at veteran’s hospitals. VA employees have been proven to have falsified and even destroyed federal records to cover up the fact that veterans are not receiving the care they deserve. Yet Congress refuses to overturn the idiotic civil service rules that prevent federal employees from being fired for wrong-doing. If you refused to do your job properly – particularly if your malfeasance caused the death of another – you would be fired immediately. But it is almost impossible to fire a federal employee.
And then there is the general hatred of the military, veterans and service members fostered mainly by Liberal-controlled bodies such as the media, the courts, and educational institutions. Again, it is not so bad today as the discrimination Vietnam veterans faced when their superiors warned them not to wear their uniforms in public lest they be attacked. Or when the children of soldiers who died in Vietnam were told to lie about how their parents died because many were bullied or physically attacked.
Today the bias is more subtle. In 2009 Obama’s Homeland Security Department warned against “right-wing extremists” who might become terrorists. These potential terrorists included Christians, anti-abortion activists, and – you guessed it – veterans. “Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists,” stated a DHS report.
Liberal universities refuse to allow ROTC programs on their campuses, even though they are in demand by students who plan to join the military after college. Many refuse to allow military recruiters to participate in career day activities.
Veterans face discrimination in housing and in hiring (see article below). One veteran reported that his interviewer seemed less interested in his qualifications than in his military service. He asked lots of questions about whether he had to do anything stressful in the military, and how well he was integrating back into society. “Finally the HR rep just flat out asked me - did I suffer from any PTSD that might make me more apt to hurt my coworkers! I mean, are they allowed to ask me that?"
Housing discrimination is mainly directed against veterans with disabilities. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has cited landlords for refusing to accommodate veterans who need to use wheelchairs and others who have refused housing to veterans with therapeutic service animals. Some have refused to house veterans because they claim they might become “violent”; others just because they are pacifists and don’t want to have former military in their buildings.
In my opinion, the discrimination against veterans is due partly to demographic shifts. During WWII, 15% of adults were in the military. That meant practically every American knew someone or had a family member in the service. Today, less than 1% of American adults serve in the military – about 1.2 Million active duty and 800,000 in the reserves and National Guard. So most Americans have very little understanding of who our military personnel are, what they go through, and what they do for our nation.
A bigger problem is that since the 1970’s the percentage of veterans serving in Congress has steadily declined. In 1975 75% of Senators and Representatives were veterans. Since then the number of veterans in Congress has dropped by over 75% to 18% of sitting legislators. This is particularly disturbing because it means that few of the people who make the laws that impact veterans have any understanding of what it means to serve.
Of the first 25 Commanders-in-Chief, only three had not served in the military. Since then, things have gone downhill. Nine of the 19 presidents since Theodore Roosevelt never answered the call to service. Is it possible to be the Commander-in-Chief of our military personnel, having never served in the military? Obviously, it is. But I think it is just as obvious that military men and women have more respect for presidents who have served, and have more confidence that he understands the stakes when he sends them in harm’s way.
Worse, three in 10 Secretaries of Defense have never served in the military, and the trend is worsening. Since the post was created most of the Secretaries had been military men. But in recent years, the trend has been more and more to appoint civilians to lead the military. Why is this important? While the president is officially the Commander-in-Chief, he has little to do with the day-to-day management of the armed forces. The Secretary, as the head of the Department of Defense, has that responsibility. And this position is important to the troops.
In the last survey of troop morale done by the Military Times in 2015, the Times said the numbers were “brutal.” Quoting from the survey: In response to the statement, "The senior military leadership has my best interests at heart," only 27% agreed, down from 53% in a previous survey conducted in 2009. As for, "Overall, officers in the military are good or excellent," only 49% agreed, down from 78% in the 2009 survey. Agreement with, "Overall my quality of life is good or excellent," dropped from 91% agreement in 2009 to 56% in 2014. And President Obama's personal approval rating was a jaw-dropping 15%.
(One of the reasons for Obama’s abysmal approval rating among the troops was his appointment of Eric Fanning, a civilian and a homosexual, to be Secretary of the Air Force.)
A population in which 1% serves in the military; a Congress with a very small percentage of veterans; and a command structure in which few of those in control military personnel understand their challenges or their needs; together create a situation in which veterans and active duty personnel are not honored nor properly cared for.
Those of you who are regular readers of my weekly columns know I don’t like to bring up problems without proposing solutions. Here they are:
It all starts at the top. The troops and veterans need to know that the president has their back. They knew that Barrack Obama did not appreciate them and that he worked hard to keep his campaign promise to reduce the military by 50%. President Trump is a far different president who is working to build up both military strength and morale. I have no doubt that the next Military Times survey will show a far different picture of morale.
Get rid of all civil service rules. It’s not just the Department of Veteran’s Affairs that has problems. The federal bureaucracy is riddled with people who are lazy, refuse to do their jobs, or who abuse their positions (such as the IRS targeting Conservative and Christian groups). There are many great federal employees, but the jerks make everyone look bad. There should be no protected class. Federal employees should be subject to the same rules as the rest of us.
The government has done a terrible job in dealing with veteran homelessness. Shift the funding to private and faith-based local groups who know their communities and the people they serve, rather than having a huge federal bureaucracy try to administer programs from DC.
Reform the Veterans medical system. Get rid of the slackers and abusers. Form advisory committees composed of the people who are supposed to be being served. Allow veterans to vote with their feet by allowing them to see private physicians if they are not getting proper care at the Veterans Hospitals.
Require truthful American history to be taught in our schools again. Kids today by and large know nothing of the sacrifices their parents and grandparents made to keep our country free and to prevent the genocide of other people around the world. Skip the classes on how to hug trees and how to avoid being “offended” and teach them the value of patriotism and service.
The Bible says in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus was the ultimate example of this. Our fallen veterans followed His example. We owe them a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. But we can try, starting with treating our living veterans with far more respect – and love.
NASCAR Drivers Carry Names of Fallen Service Members for 600 Miles
Homeland Security Classifies Returning US Veterans as Potential Terrorist Threat
The Decline of Veterans in Congress
Drug Theft and Abuse Plague Veteran’s Facilities
The New Battle Our Soldiers Face: the Bias of Some Corporate Hiring Managers
HUD: Veterans Deserve to Live Free from Housing Discrimination