I’m afraid I’m a day late with this, but I don’t care. The fact that we take 24 hours out of the year to pay lip service to our veterans is a little bit silly anyway — a day shouldn’t go by when we aren’t outraged that even one vet is sleeping on the streets or hungry or not getting proper medical care.
My friend, Xiomara Rodriguez, is a Coast Guard veteran, and I got this from her the other day. I feel better giving her the soapbox on this subject because she’s earned that right, and I haven’t. These are the thoughts that came to her while watching commercials for one of the most celebrated Veterans Day events — sales.
First of all, let me tell you, just in case you did not know, there are female veterans out there, and I am one of them. I married a military man who is also a veteran and together we a raised a family while in the service like many other veterans’ families. It was not an easy life, but we did what we needed to do because we believed in what we were doing for our country.
So, we are celebrating veterans. That is so great. We will have a parade downtown to celebrate the veterans. We will post on our Facebook and Twitter pages pictures of veterans, fly American flags, sing “God Bless America” and scream out “Country First.”
But we will forget the reality that there are thousand of homeless veterans, that the suicide rate among veterans is higher than ever, that domestic violence cases and child abuse cases are higher within the military than ever, that the amount of rapes have increased, and that there is a large amount of our gay and lesbian military that are being denied ID cards for their families because of a broken system.
Yes, that is our reality. So let’s march for that reality. It is so easy to pull out a flag on Veterans Day and sing and march and forget that we are a nation at war.
We forget that one of the first casualties of the Iraq war was an undocumented immigrant for Guatemala who got their citizenship posthumously. This is someone who gave his life for a promise of a country that he wanted to call home, and like him there are many more.
We forget the many women have been wounded or killed in the Iraq/Afghanistan war. The ones that return with PTSD and have to not only fight that, but also fight the fact that some have been raped, maybe by the same men whose lives they saved on the battlefield. We, as a nation, do not want to accept that rape among the military has been higher than ever. And this only includes the reported cases. What about those cases that have gone unreported because the women are afraid of the stigma.
We ignore the great number of homeless veterans, who probably did 5 or 6 tours between Iraq and Afghanistan and are suffering from PTSD who are having difficulty getting help from the VA and cannot find a job because there are no jobs for our returning veterans.
We forget the thousands upon thousands of returning veterans who are physically and mentally injured. These are men and women who sometimes tremble at the sound of a car backfiring because it reminds them of the battlefield. These are the men and women who scream in the middle of the night because they remember that moment when they were injured, or the moment they lost their best friend.
It amazes me, when I hear people scream, “This is my country,” but those are the same people who forget the needs of our military and veterans. They are the same group that voted to cut the food stamp program that helps our military and veterans get food to feed their families. This is the same group of people who have not voted on a jobs bill that would help provide jobs for our returning military personnel. But they are the same group of people that are the first to run and hold tightly to the American flag and march in a parade.
Yes, I am angry, you bet I am! I am just saying!