So this was Veteran’s Day — I’m writing this on Vets Day eve (that is the end of the day). Well technically I’m a veteran — I served three years in the Army — but I was working on Veteran’s Day. Strangely, most of the government employees get it off — veterans or not (many of course are). Seems to me if you’re going to have a national holiday then everyone, except emergency personnel and essential public service employees (skeleton staff) should have it off.
I said I was “technically” a veteran because I do not consider my service as momentous as those who actually served in the combat theatre or who actually got shot at or got shot or who made a career of it all. I was in Germany while many others were in Vietnam, to include one of my brothers who was in the Army too (although he always downplays his service). My other brother was a career Navy man, serving throughout much of the Cold War and during the Korean War. While I have not always cared for our nation’s military or foreign policy, I am proud that all of us brothers served. We get the privilege of listening to all the chicken hawks squawk about how we should go to war hither and yon while never volunteering or otherwise being available for service themselves.
And then I hear this radio report how in San Francisco one of the Catholic charities (I think it was Catholic) was handing out shoes to homeless vets. If I was president there would be no such thing as a homeless vet or one who was in need of medical care but could not get it or was bankrupted or nearly bankrupted by it, such as has disturbingly been the case for many who have served in our most current wars. You see we have gone to the much leaner force of an all-volunteer military supplemented by reserves and National Guardsmen, and even private mercenaries. The reserves and guards it has been reported get caught up in bureaucracy that separates their service from the regular military. We’ve even had wounded vets being billed for their own medical care.
I’m serious, why could not the president make an executive order that such things could not, will not happen? Would he have the legal standing to do so? Who would object? Don‘t tell me, probably the chicken hawks (many of whom are Republicans).
One thing that always bothers me is that attitudes toward war or foreign policy are always attached to patriotism by those who promote war. You can be 100 percent in support of the troops but 100 percent against a particular military action or war.
It is true, though, that once our troops are committed, they need the support of the whole nation — that is kind of a paradox or conundrum in a free society. What it points to is the fact that we need a clarification on war powers. Since Korea and especially since Vietnam we have had a muddled idea as to who can commit our troops to war and under what circumstances.
Without getting into a scholarly treatise on constitutional war powers, I thought it had been the general understanding that the president can ask for a declaration of war, but only congress can declare it. But the long drawn out and bloody Vietnam War never saw a declaration. Our current war saw congress give former President George W. Bush power to wage a war on a concept , “terror”, giving him seemingly unlimited power to wage war on anyone anywhere forever (somehow I don‘t think our founding fathers foresaw that or would even approve of it). The war continues under a new president with no clear goal and a questionable rationale. I mean, how long will it take to wipe out evil, or all the evil doers, as W. would have said? Somehow I think as long as there is a human race there will be evil doers.
But, nonetheless, we have troops in the field while a complacent nation goes about wringing its hands or whining about economic depression. The subject of war virtually never came up in the recent elections. And ironically, the war is a major cause of our economic disaster.
I still maintain that if every able-bodied male (and maybe even every able-bodied female) was obligated to serve a tour of duty we would probably not be involved in costly armed conflict anywhere at this time.
Hope you enjoyed Veteran’s Day.
I bought a poppy from some old guy (maybe no older than this old guy writing this) who said he also served in Germany.
And just why do we still have troops in Germany anyway?