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Veterans

Support Veterans By Defending, Not Defunding, Public Sector Jobs

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.”

‘The Greatest Evil Is War’ Excerpt Details The Horrors Of Post-War Life

I flew to Kansas City to see Tomas Young. Tomas was paralyzed in Iraq in 2004. He was receiving hospice care at his home. I knew him by reputation and the movie documentary Body of War. He was one of the first veterans to publicly oppose the war in Iraq. He fought as long and as hard as he could against the war that crippled him, until his physical deterioration caught up with him. “I had been toying with the idea of suicide for a long time because I had become helpless,” he told me in his small house on the Kansas City outskirts where he intended to die. “I couldn’t dress myself. People have to help me with the most rudimentary of things. I decided I did not want to go through life like that anymore. The pain, the frustration.…” He stopped abruptly and called his wife.

They Will Beat Their Swords Into Plowshares

What’s wrong, so profoundly wrong with war that compelled Isaiah to implore for peace (without debate over just and unjust war) almost 3,000 years ago? War breeds a plague of ills and evils.  Most immediate is the acute tragedy for those directly killed, soldiers and civilians alike, with civilian deaths often being in excess of soldiers’ deaths in recent wars due to urban, aerial and guerrilla warfare. For US veterans who have returned from war with “soldier’s heart” (Civil War), “shell shock” (1st World War), “PTSD” and “moral injury” (Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan), Veterans for Peace captures poignantly the lifelong agony of fighting and killing in war.  “Many of us continue to suffer physical and spiritual wounds from multiple wars; we can tell hard truths.  War is not the answer – it is mass murder and mayhem.

Letter To President Biden: ‘Enough Is Enough – War Is Not The Answer’

I am writing you as a proud member of Veterans For Peace and its former president. We have been following the war in Ukraine closely, since well before the Russian invasion on February 24 of this year. We were alarmed when you and President Obama supported the regime-change coup in Ukraine in 2014, which was openly cheered on by the State Department’s Victoria Nuland, and spearheaded by self-described Nazis.  We watched in horror as those same self-described Nazis set fire to an Odessa union building full of Ukrainians who were protesting a new law outlawing the Russian language as an official language of Ukraine.  50 people were burned alive or shot and beaten to death. This in a country with a long history with Russia and millions of Russian speakers. 

Chris Hedges: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars

We are not a good and virtuous nation. God does not bless us above other nations. Victory is not assured. War is not noble and uplifting. The clash between the reality of combat and the Disneyfied version of combat consumed by the public, one that propels many young men and women into war, creates not only dissonance and moral injury, but an existential crisis—one that combat veterans, at least those who are self-reflective, must cope with for the rest of their lives. Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who fought in Vietnam, and Danny Sjursen, a retired Army major who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, have just published Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars. Bacevich and Sjursen, West Point graduates like many writers in the book, come out of the military culture.

Veterans Arrested Condemning US Military’s Role In Climate Crisis

Several U.S. veterans and their allies were arrested outside the nation's Capitol building on Wednesday as they protested the military's role in driving the climate crisis, from its massive greenhouse gas emissions to its large-scale release of toxic chemicals overseas and at home. Veterans for Peace (VFP), a national anti-war group that organized the demonstration, said that at least seven veterans and supporters were arrested at the Capitol Hill protest, where advocates demanded cuts to the Pentagon budget, transparency from the military on its carbon emissions, an end to all U.S.-led wars, and a climate emergency declaration from President Joe Biden. "The military has done next to nothing to reduce their carbon footprint, either ignoring the climate mandate completely or just focusing on creating more advanced weapons systems that can continue to operate under worsening climate conditions," said VFP executive director Garett Reppenhagen, a U.S. Army veteran.

A Veterans Health Commission Dies An Early Death

When Joe Biden ran for president in 2020, he marketed himself as a pragmatist, eager to collaborate with Republicans and capable of bridging divides because of his long experience in the Senate and as vice president. Despite this résumé, in late June Biden was rebuked by Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle. They came together, unexpectedly, to block his nominations to a presidential commission that no one at the White House or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) thought would be that controversial.

How Bezos And His Company Wrap Themselves In The Flag

Corporate America loves to proclaim its love and support for "our veterans." The persistent problem of veteran suicide has provided big firms with an opportunity to demonstrate their concern about the health and well-being of former military personnel, including those they employ. Unfortunately, at companies like Amazon, this performative patriotism does not involve improving working conditions or changing any management practices that might actually make them better employers, even while they pledge to hire more employees with military backgrounds.

Does America Stand For Guns Or For Sanity?

I changed my flight back home to Hawai’i so I could be at the protest of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Houston on Friday, May 27 following the mass murder of 19 kids and 2 teachers at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school earlier in the week. The NRA callously refused to postpone its annual gun-selling convention in Houston despite the call for the organization to stand down in wake of yet another mass killing, the third in a period of three weeks with ten killed at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York and one person killed and five wounded in shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California.   Thousands of angry people of all ages jammed into Discovery Park across the street from the massive George R. Brown convention center in downtown Houston.

UK War Resister Reflects On Troubled State Of ‘Veteranhood’

Military service in the U.S. and the U.K. promised more than it ever delivered for many post-9/11volunteers. As sociologist and Vietnam vet Jerry Lembcke observes, “this generation of veterans went off to Iraq and Afghanistan with more hoopla than any generation since World War II. But a lot of them, particularly the men, came back deflated and disappointed with the experience they had. It did not live up to the mythology of what war is supposed to be, because there is no glory in these inglorious wars.” Adding insult to moral injury, hundreds of thousands of modern-day veterans developed long-term medical or mental health conditions that were service related.  If these afflictions affected their job performance while still on active duty, the Department of Defense (DOD) thanked many of them for their service by drumming them out in punitive fashion.

The Green Marine

In recent years, both major parties in the U.S. have been recruiting former members of the military, the foreign service, or national security agencies to run for Congress. Almost all of these so-called “service candidates” are either conservative Republicans or corporate Democrats, who quickly become part of the bi-partisan majority on Capitol Hill which rubber-stamps ever larger Pentagon budgets and fails to get big money out of politics. Two years ago, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) bet heavily on four ex- military officers running for US Senate seats against right-wing Republicans in Arizona, Texas, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Despite much Super-PAC spending on their behalf, only one of them, former astronaut Mark Kelly, actually got elected. 

Veterans For Peace Releases Nuclear Posture Review

The U.S.-based international organization Veterans For Peace has released its own assessment of the current global threat of nuclear war, ahead of the anticipated release of the Biden Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review. The Veterans For Peace Nuclear Posture Review warns that the danger of nuclear war is greater than ever and that nuclear disarmament must be vigorously pursued.  Veterans For Peace plans to deliver their Nuclear Posture Review to the President and Vice President, to every member of Congress, and to the Pentagon. With the first anniversary of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on January 22, the Veterans For Peace Nuclear Posture Review calls on the U.S. government to sign the treaty and to work with other nuclear-armed states to eliminate all the world’s nuclear weapons. 

Veterans’ Health Care For Mental And Environmental Illnesses Under Attack

In recent years, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have backed privatization of services provided by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).  As part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the VHA serves about nine million patients and operates the largest public healthcare  system in the country. Since 2015, billions of dollars have been diverted from VHA care to private doctors and for-profit hospitals who treat veterans in costlier and less effective fashion.  This cannibalization of the VHA budget began under President Obama, escalated during the Trump era, and continues under Joe Biden.

Veterans Target US Military’s Outsized Impact On The Climate Crisis

“If the military were to disclose its full carbon footprint and do so on a regular basis, that number would be deeply embarrassing and create a tremendous amount of political pressure on the U.S. military to reduce those emissions going forward,” former army officer and Afghanistan War veteran Eric Edstrom told Democracy Now! “We cannot make smart choices intellectually and strategically, until those numbers come out.”

A Real Day For Veterans

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.
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