Saturday, May 24, 2014

Short changing veterans an age old tradition

The script du jour this Memorial Day weekend is the failure of the US to treat its veterans honorably. But once again, it is not just an American story, it goes all the way back to Julius Caesar.
In 46 B.C., the legendary soldiers of iron discipline marched on Rome to demand their just rewards for plundering the known world and filling the city’s coffers with cash and Caesar’s villa with Cleopatra.
The illustrious Roman general and erstwhile king was able to disarm them morally by declaring them merely citizens, no longer his soldiers. They begged to be taken back.
The bipartisan US scandal of failing to justly reward veterans goes all the way to the Revolutionary War.
It has become the Republican scandal of the day in their war against President Barack Obama.
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, and even GOP stalwart Bill O’Reilly, couldn’t miss the chance to exploit the historical fact that the mistreatment of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans began under former President George Bush.
“On this Memorial Day weekend eve, we can finally admit that America has had for over 200 years a great bipartisan tradition of honoring those who have fought for our freedom by f*ing them over once they give their guns back," Stewart said.

The increasingly long waits for care in veterans’ hospitals is the symbol of the problem but that also is not new. It has been going off and on at least since the Vietnam War.
Reporters who watched eager recruits preparing to head off for war at Fort Carson, Colorado, in 2003 couldn’t help but wonder if the soldiers realized the they were getting themselves into a pile of feces.
Retired veterans, now hired as civilians, grimaced when they heard disparaging remarks from the Bush Administration about Vietnam War soldiers.
Thinking back about their eagerness to ultimately join the long lines waiting for care, if they survived, brings to mind “Short Change Man.”
The British band “Heavy” was thinking of something else when they wrote:
“This ain't no place for no hero.
This ain't no place for no better man.
This ain't no place for no hero
To call ‘home.’”
Marvin Gaye was already dead or he would have asked “What’s going on?” and warned that “war is not the answer.”
Who would have thought that at the end of day these would-be veterans not only would have to wait for care, but also hear that the war they fought was for a mirage, much like Vietnam vets learned was their just desserts.
Who would have thought Marvin Gaye was considered a “soul” singer and not an anti-war prophet? It is hard to get anything right the first time.

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