March 31, 2013

Returning vets deserve our help

When I’m not working, I wear a Vietnam Veterans Against the War button that I bought in Washington, D.C., during an anti-war demonstration on May 3, 1971.

I’ve been wearing it since the first Persian Gulf War.

I’m not a pacifist. I believe that the forces of radical Islam want to destroy America and our way of life. Their goals don’t differ much from what the Axis powers wanted to accomplish during World War II, and we need to oppose radical Islam with the same fervor with which we fought in the 1940s.

So why the button?

What I oppose is the way we’re waging the war. We’re trying to be politically correct about how we fight the war, and that won’t work — now or ever. But that’s a conversation for another day.

More than the way we’re waging the war, I oppose the lack of services and programs for those returning home after fighting in it.

While we’ve learned “to separate the war from the warrior,” coming home isn’t always all that welcoming if you’ve been wounded physically or psychologically (which in my opinion is just about everyone, unless you were a sociopath before you deployed) or if you need a job.

Once a veteran returns home, the government pretty much wants them to reintegrate into civilian life as if nothing had happened. You see, it’s expensive to treat those damaged by war.

Bureaucrats calculate the cost of war in terms of ammunition, weapons, and replacement parts, etc. They seldom consider the aftermath as a cost, the physical and psychological trauma, the harm done to marriages, to a parent’s relationship with his/her children, PTSD, the night traumas, the stalled or ruined careers.

It’s important for all of us to understand that when we send young men and women to war, they bring the war home with them.

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