Our nation’s year-round celebration of former military service by 19 million Americans reaches its apex every Nov. 11 (aka Veterans Day). On that occasion, there is no louder “thank you for your service” heard throughout the land than the expression of gratitude which emanate from businesses, large and small. Men and women who enlisted in the military—or were draftees before conscription was suspended after the Vietnam War—suddenly become eligible for all kinds of special consumer discounts. As retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich, a military historian, observes, “corporate virtue signaling” on Nov. 11 takes the form of “an abundance of good deals: free coffee, free doughnuts, free pizza, free car washes, and as much as 30 percent off on assorted retail purchases.”
Last week, USAToday ran a feature by reporter Jill Castellano that spotlighted issues around the VA MISSION Act, which is supposed to assure that veterans have easier access to care – outside the VA when clinically necessary. The project was blatantly biased and had Koch fingerprints all over it. We hate to give it any extra attention but must correct the record. The piece falsely accuses the VA of systematically denying veterans access to private sector care when it’s warranted. In truth, veterans are being referred to the private sector at acceleratingly high levels, as the aforementioned Hill op-edmakes clear. Much of the story centers on the MISSION Act’s criteria of providing eligibility for private sector care for veterans “if it is in their best medical interest.”
Some 30,000 post 9/11 service members and veterans have been desperate enough to take their own lives. A real day for veterans would provide mental and physical support services that would seek to reduce or eliminate these self-inflicted casualties. There are 40,000 homeless veterans in this country. A real day for veterans would address their physical and emotional needs and help them access permanent housing. One of every 10 post 9/11 veterans has been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem. A real day for veterans would help them get treatment without stigmatization or shame. Fifteen percent of post 9/11 veterans suffer from PTSD. A real day for veterans would provide them with the mental health services they need to cope with the soul-damaging trauma they experienced.