- “We have met the enemy, and they is us.” ~Pogo
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."
~ President George Washington
There is a constant stream of rhetoric coming from many of our elected officials regarding the treatment of our Veteran Community. The sound bites are slick and catchy, and succeed in their attempt to make the general public think our government really takes care of our Veterans when they return to civilian life after experiencing time in a theater of war. The reality of this subject is that our Nation’s Veterans are not getting the sustainable help they need. They need, minimally, the benefits and treatments promised, and they need them now. It is past the time for politicians and bureaucrats, who work for us, to put solid, meaningful actions behind their slick, glossy words.
Our Soldiers do not deserve to be treated like third class citizens upon their return from the war zones and theaters of battle our government so quickly sent them to. They deserve to be treated gratefully, and by a grateful Government. They do not deserve to be toyed with by bureaucrats who seemingly can’t fathom, or acknowledge, the Soldier’s sacrifices. They do not deserve to have the rug pulled out from under them by self-serving, bickering, and unproductive legislators and bureaucrats. They do not deserve to die a civilian with a needle in their arm, or a bullet in their brain, after so gallantly representing the United States of America.
In acknowledging that all politics are local, I have chosen to look at a little slice of America: Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, New York. I consider these two Counties to be my “home town”, as do most of the 142,000 other veterans who live here. As a percentage of population, we Veterans make up 5.4%; not too far from the National average.
Politicians take a look at a number like 5.4%, and, in forging their election strategies, are willing to ignore such a seemingly insignificant number of people.
There is, however, one small problem for any politician who blatantly minimizes, lies to, and ignores our Veteran population. We Veterans, as a whole, tend to vote at about a 76% rate; unlike the rest of the civilian population that musters a mere 30-35%. We also have an earned distrust of government; after all, it was government that sent us off to fight wars in God-forsaken lands. And, once we got there, it was government that refused to supply us with adequate gear, rolling stock, and allow for proper military strategy. Then, when we got back home, we were promised a package of benefits that weren’t accessible, or weren’t attainable, or were summarily denied. This has been the overriding case since the Vietnam War, and, to Veterans of that era, it is excruciatingly painful and sad to see how inadequately the Veterans of today are being treated. Granted, it is tough cleaning up the human excrement left by war, but that is one of the jobs a Federal government that created the mess is obligated to do.
No one in government seems to be asking the question, “ If the Federal and State governments deliver the services they claim to, then why do organizations like The Wounded Warrior Project, The Soldier’s Project, the PSTD Veterans Association, and all the rest of the 501(c) Service Organizations have a need to exist?” The answer is that they shouldn’t need to exist at all, ever! The government should live up to its promises and pick up the pieces when their Soldiers return home – no matter the cost. Government creates wars; wars create paraplegics; wars create Traumatic Brain Injury; wars create Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; it is government’s obligation to fully and completely take care of the mess they create.
Our government trained us in the ways of waging war. So, having fought enemies of the State, we find it necessary to engage once more in battle. This time, however, the enemy is the State, and as in the past, we will be victorious. I hereby put all politicians who represent my “home town” on notice. This is an election year. You will be hearing from us.
Hutch Dubosque, Vice President
PTSD Veterans Association of Northport, Inc.
PO Box 194
Northport, NY 11768