Veterans Day always leaves me feeling odd. I can’t quite explain it, but I’ll never be comfortable with it, even though I think, as a nation, we need to do so much more for our veterans than we currently provide. I guess I feel this way because it reminds me of what I call #Hashtagcharity.
Veterans Day falls into this category, much like Thanksgiving is the only time far too many of us visit our family. It becomes a check the block that lets us feel good about ourselves without really doing the work. I gave you a free meal, or I tied a Yellow ribbon around a tree, or I ordered the salute to service jersey of my favorite team to show that we are united behind you.
Meanwhile, the remaining 364 days of the year, we allow our nation’s promise to go unfulfilled. Our VA system as a whole is broken despite the best efforts of those involved. They are underfunded, understaffed, and overworked in a desperate attempt to try and keep the flood gates closed. But we can see the cracks in the dam and the water is about to burst through.
We have known about the suicide epidemic that plagues our ranks. Depending on the study you cite, you can see estimates that range from 16.8-22 veterans per day that commit suicide. It will never set well with me, knowing that more veterans are dying here at home than in the longest sustained war in our nation’s history. How can we make the advances we have in protecting the body of the warrior but still remain so far behind servicing their minds and souls?
As if that wasn’t enough, there appears to be another wolf at the door– “friendly fire.”
The unseen effects of burn pits have followed us home, and it’s not like we haven’t done this dance before–Agent Orange in the Vietnam War and Gulf War Syndrome in the first Gulf War. Yet, here, we are not supporting our veterans again.
“The Veterans Administration has established a voluntary burn pit registry, and more than 180,000 people have signed up. But of the 12,000 claims filed to the VA connected to burn pits, only about 2,500 have been accepted – and a victims’ lawsuit against contractors who oversaw some of the pits was rejected by the Supreme Court.”
So understand it’s not that I don’t appreciate the thank you’s, I really do. I just ask that you consider putting those thanks into action for the things that we really need. Ensuring that we are taken care of when the fighting we did is killing us inside.
Or, if we lose our life, long after we returned due to the road we took, take care of our family who now will have to walk alone.