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Veterans' Day [Nov. 11th, 2007|11:28 am]
[Current Mood |determined]

Veterans' Day comes right after the Marine Corps Birthday. 

I'm a veteran.   I served in the USMCR, active duty 1968-71.   Yes, *that* war.   I spent it as a REMF (rear echelon mother f*cker)  at Headquarters, which wasn't as far from conflict as you might think. 

I'm married to a veteran (U.S. Army, 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne in 'Nam.) 

If you care about the service rendered  to this country by veterans, here's what I think you should do.  Contact your Senators and Congresscritters and tell them "No tax cuts until all veterans have adequate medical care, including psychiatric care, until all veterans are off the streets [a quarter of the homeless are veterans, according to a recent survey], until all military personnel and their families are living at a reasonable level."

Tax cuts mean fewer social services--fewer veterans' services (as well as less health care for poor kids and families, less help for those who lose a job and have the bottom drop out financially.)    Not only veterans of my war, but veterans of more recent wars, are suffering because they aren't getting the health care they need, the job counseling they need, anything...

The President will no doubt lay wreaths on soldiers' graves today and talk about their "sacrifice" and how they should be honored.

How they should be honored, Mr. President, is with the care you and your Administration and your party have  so notably failed to provide as you gave tax cuts to the rich.  

How they should be honored is with deeds as well as words--with decent health care, with psychiatric services, with top-quality prostheses if they've lost a limb, not the cheapest thing you can tack on.   How they should be honored is with jobs so they can earn a living, laws that give their families some security in case that job goes away. 

They should be honored in politics by having their voices as veterans respected by all, including veterans who do not agree with them.  For you reading this, and for politicians...I am sick and disgusted by the way that people who served have been disrespected and dishonored because they were in another political party or held different views.    Republicans sneered at  Chesty Puller's son Lewis, seriously wounded in 'Nam,  when he ran for office just at the end of the war.   They sneered at Al Gore (who served in 'Nam) and praised Bush (who hid out in the Texas Air National Guard at the time it was nationally known for sheltering the sons of rich and politically connected Texans--the Texas governor would not let it be called to service.)  They sneered at John Kerry, whose combat record was impeccable, because, after experiencing that war, he came to a different conclusion about it than they did.   John McCain is one of the few prominent Republicans who actually served in 'Nam (not Cheney, not Rove, not Bush, not Gingrich, etc, etc., etc.) and you don't see Democrats dissing his military service.  Where the f*ck (I was a Marine, remember) do these armchair generals, these let's-send-someone-else-to-fight -our-wars wonders get off dissing Puller and Gore and Kerry for theirs?  

I grew up in a community that admired and respected veterans of all political stripes--which is why I found the attacks on veterans by people who hadn't ever risked their own bodies so disgusting.  I still think it's disgusting.   Veterans--all veterans--men and women, every race and creed--have earned the right to express their opinions and questioning their patriotism--*their* patriotism!--is so much lower than a snake's belly that you'd have to be squirming along the Moho discontinuity to get there.   (Oh, and by the way--people who hung out in the draft-safe corners of the National Guard--which was by no means all the National Guard--should at least be as honest as Dan Quayle, the guy who admited that the reason he'd joined a particular unit was to get out of going to 'Nam.  I honor the former National Guard units that actually served, and those who presently serve.  For the years that the old rules and politics turned a few NG units into safe havens for rich and politically connected draft dodgers, and for those who chose that route while pretending to support the war...ptooie.  I would spit on you but it's not worth the effort.)

I have damn well earned the right to think what I think and say what I say without anyone questioning my patriotism.   Anyone who does it going to get it right back at them, in spades and with Vocabulary.  I don't want speeches on Veterans' Day.  I don't want little plastic flags stuck in the ground along the highway to "honor" me and other veterans (in fact, that's a violation of flag courtesy and if I ever find out who does it I will give them a talking to!)   I certainly don't want the politicians who didn't  have the gumption to put themselves in the military wrapping themselves in the honor of those who did, and making speeches. 

I want veterans in need (I'm not one of those) to be taken care of.  I want politicians who never served to shut up and show respect for *all* veterans. 

I want us all to go read the Constitution again and understand what it is that we veterans took an oath to uphold and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic.

Semper fi to fellow Marines.   I hope it was a good Birthday for you.

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[User Picture]From: makoiyi
2007-11-11 06:14 pm (UTC)
Wonderful post. Thank you, and thank you for serving your country.
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From: lonfiction
2007-11-11 06:15 pm (UTC)
Amen, Oo-rah, and thanks for saying some things active duty folks aren't generally allowed to.

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[User Picture]From: daveamongus
2007-11-11 06:29 pm (UTC)
Semper Fi.
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[User Picture]From: scarlettina
2007-11-11 06:35 pm (UTC)
I didn't know you'd served. New perspective for me.

Thank you for serving your country. And thank you for this post.
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[User Picture]From: sdn
2007-11-11 06:46 pm (UTC)

two uncles in the navy, a father in the army. i think the army saved his life, actually.
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[User Picture]From: green_knight
2007-11-11 07:34 pm (UTC)
I think it takes a lot of courage to stand up for your convictions and refuse to serve in a war you don't believe in.

Hiding in a safe unit behind the rock skirts of someone who owes your Dad a favour is cowardly - standing up to be counted in the face of adversity (and, in past times, prison sentences or even death) is not.

Besides a duty to defend your country and its people you also have a duty to fight for justice. Sometimes they are the same, at other times they are not. There are some orders that are worth refusing - and that includes refusing before you join.

As for the refusal to serve veterans, words fail me on that. I can easily believe your statistic about the homeless; I believe the UK figures are showing a strong trend in the same direction :-(
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2007-11-11 09:21 pm (UTC)
I would agree that sometimes the decision not to serve is an honorable decision (sometimes it's self-serving. Sometimes it's racist, as in the young men my husband knew who said they were willing to fight to save Europe from the Reds, but weren't willing to fight for "gooks.") Whether it's being a pure pacifist and not being willing to be in any military, or being opposed to a particular war, I can make my peace with an honest refuser. I can make my peace with someone who went on to graduate school, say, hoping the war would be over while his student deferment was still working--as long as he wasn't bragging about how he *would* have gone, if only...

But that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about people who claimed to support that particular war, but cleverly evaded service without actually being counted as evaders. Under the laws then pertaining, except in very narrowly defined cases, the military could not activate a National Guard unit without a governor's permission. Many governors gave it; some didn't (among them, the governors of Texas and Indiana, who both protected their Air National Guard units and knowingly allowed them to become havens for the sons of their friends and supporters.) It is because of that, and also the generally poor readiness of NG units at the time, that a major reorganization occurred in the wake of the Vietnam War.

Thus in this current war, it's been possible to avoid conscription by calling up NG without consulting state governors and keeping them on active duty for years, resulting in severe hardships that go beyond the soldier and his/her immediate family. For instance, the Louisiana National Guard was sent to Iraq (or maybe Afghanistan, I forget) early in the hurricane season...so the bulk of the Louisiana National Guard and their equipment were not available when Katrina hit New Orleans. WHY was a Gulf Coast state stripped of its National Guard in the season it would most likely be needed? Louisiana had a Democrat for governor; Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida all had Republicans. I think that's significant.

But that's another rant.
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[User Picture]From: poetheather
2007-11-11 07:41 pm (UTC)
Great post, From one vet to another.
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[User Picture]From: lurkerwithout
2007-11-11 07:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you both for the service and for the speech.
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[User Picture]From: kimuro
2007-11-11 07:55 pm (UTC)
Amen, Hallelujah and ... Thank you. You've said what I could not.
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[User Picture]From: weaktwos
2007-11-11 08:11 pm (UTC)
Bravo. I have no respect for those that profit from wars and don't actually serve.
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[User Picture]From: madwriter
2007-11-11 08:48 pm (UTC)
Here's a tax cut I'd be in favor of: change the rules so that no member of the service pays federal taxes at all while on active duty. And personally, though I don't think it's realistic, I'd also be in favor of having combat veterans getting to live income tax-free for the rest of their lives.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2007-11-11 09:32 pm (UTC)
I'd do it differently. I didn't object to paying taxes when I was in...but it was much harder for soldiers in combat, especially those with dependents (so computing the tax was more difficult.) So: anyone in a combat zone, whether or not defined as a combat soldier (i.e., anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan, no matter what his/her MOS and assignment) would pay no income tax on service pay. If he/she had non-military income or a spouse had nonmilitary income, *that* income would be taxable. (You don't want people marrying into the military just to get a tax break on their outside income. And it would happen...)

Medal of Honor winners would pay no federal or state income tax for life.

While there should be no difference in the respect accorded a vet by reason of which war, gender, race, political opinion...there are differences which relate to the service itself. Everyone salutes Medal of Honor winners...generals with stars out the kazoo salute a Medal of Honor winner, no matter the rank. Unfortunately, in civilian life these days, they're invisible. We have retired generals by the score (one is a relative) and they're always popping up on television to give their opinion, but when's the last time you saw a Medal of Honor winner being interviewed? They're the ones I'd give a tax break to.
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[User Picture]From: pixelfish
2007-11-11 08:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your post. I'm really tempted to send it to my clueless but well-meaning conservative family members.
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[User Picture]From: bevhale
2007-11-11 09:15 pm (UTC)
Amen. Bravo. *salutes* I couldn't join, but I have great respect for all who served.
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From: morgan_dhu
2007-11-11 09:51 pm (UTC)
I believe that anyone who is willing to put their body and life on the line for the good of others is worthy of the highest respect.

As someone who is, more often than not, opposed to military solutions until everything else has been tried and nothing else is possible, I also believe that one of the ways we can respect those who have made the choice to place themselves in harm's way for the common good is to never ask them to do so carelessly, thoughtlessly, needlessly, or for any reason other than the common good.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2007-11-11 10:45 pm (UTC)
And I would agree. In a nearly-ideal world (the ideal world being free of war...) governments would use hammers only on nails and have the foresight (!) to avoid most conflicts by the application of common sense and basic fairmindedness.

Closer to reality...it's really stupid to ignore the experience of those who've actually, like, been in a war, in favor of your pipe-dreams of glory.
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From: sunfell
2007-11-11 11:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you, fellow veteran. I served during the Cold War ('79-92), and my career was cut short by the end of the Cold War.

I was reading some statistics that mention that female veterans have a large chance of becoming homeless- especially single women who may have suffered 'military sexual trauma' or PTSD.

That really bothers me- because I have an inner fear of one day waking up, having had my job and my savings stripped from me, and becoming homeless. It's an awful thing to fear. The VA doesn't seem to really care about female vets, either- they told me flat out when I got out that I had no privileges, although I was honorably discharged. I recently found out that was wrong, and am going to see what I can do to get some compensation for service-related injuries.

It's funny though- people still act surprised when I tell them that I am a veteran. Female vets are still uncommon enough to get overlooked, apparently.

I'm going to watch "Saving Private Ryan" or maybe "The Patriot" when I get back from shopping. These films remind me of what being a veteran is all about.

Semper Fi, former Marine and fellow vet!
(from a 'wingnut' USAF vet)
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