Another Memorial Day is upon us to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and with American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, it is important to reflect not only on their service and sacrifice, but on the reason they are in harm’s way. Using the military should be a last resort and only to defend this nation, however, there are politicians and leaders who take advantage of the military’s dedication and force to advance their own self-interests and they dishonor America’s service members with their cavalier attitude toward human life and taxpayer dollars.
The men and women who volunteer to defend America do so out of a sense of duty, and they are to be commended profusely for their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan certainly had nothing to do with defending the homeland, and looking back on the Bush administration’s folly in both countries invokes myriad feelings of betrayal because the terror attacks on 9/11 that precipitated the wars was avoidable if Bush et al heeded warnings in August of 2001 that Al Qaeda intended on flying commercial airliners into buildings on American soil. It is now part of the historical record that when Bush entered the White House in 2001, one of the first questions his team asked was “where are the war plans for Iraq,” and despite volumes of evidence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction or involvement in the terror attacks on 9/11, the cowards Cheney and Bush fabricated evidence, lied to the American people, and sacrificed thousands of American service members lives to enrich the oil industry, Dick Cheney’s company Haliburton, and the evangelical mercenary army, Blackwater Inc. Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, and five of their legal counsel were convicted of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo; the criminals remain free and the blame lies solely with the media, but that is another story.
The Bush administration’s blatant disregard for the lives of our brave soldiers is only matched by the deceit and machinations the warmongers perpetrated in order to enrich their wealthy corporate friends, and for we Americans who lost loved ones and friends, there is nothing but contempt that should serve as reminders that any politician who lusts for war is not worthy to lead. This author’s family has lost six precious lives to Bush’s cowboy diplomacy, and nurtures a beloved son-in-law who fought in the Battle for Baghdad and still struggles with horrific nightmares and regret at taking lives because of a lie. Every combat veteran returns home inexorably altered, and it behooves America’s leaders to carefully consider the psychological, physical, and financial impact of their decision to go to war.
The presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Willard Romney, has made no secret that he is panting to send Americans to engage in a war with Iran, and it is in part because of his Bush-Cheney chicken hawk sensibilities and his cult’s belief that they are “latter day American Israelis.” It is Willard’s lifelong trait to promote sending other Americans to fight and die on foreign soil while he avoids making any sacrifice, and according to the Mormon cult, missionary service is more important than serving in the military. When Romney was queried whether his five sons served their country, he said they were serving by working to get him elected president, and pointed out that they proselytized for the cult for two years.
When most Americans today are honoring veterans’ sacrifice, Romney is six months into promoting giving veterans vouchers for their healthcare benefits to enrich the health care industry, and it informs where his true loyalties lie. Instead of increasing funding to care for the men and women who served in the military, Romney hopes to cheat them out of the benefits they earned. Romney’s hero and Republican’s courageous fiscal guru’s budget that passed in the Republican House of Representatives cuts $11 billion from veteran’s spending, or 13% less than President Obama proposes in his budget. In fact, in the nearly 100-page Ryan Path to Prosperity budget, the word veteran is not mentioned one time. Romney’s privatization scam would “be inadequate, and become more so over time, so that veterans who don’t make enough money to top them up would fail to receive essential care” according to noted economist Paul Krugman.
Republicans are warmongers who love sending America’s soldiers into harm’s way, but are ill-inclined to care for them after their service is over. Bush underfunded the Department of Veterans Affairs by approximately a billion dollars in 2005, and it took Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, Jim Nicholson, begging Congress to pass emergency supplemental spending until they finally acted just to keep the doors open.
On this Memorial Day, it is important to remember our service members’ sacrifice by more than flying the American flag or saying “support our troops.” America promised its veterans to provide health care after their sacrifice and service, and the GOP dishonors them by cutting their benefits and promoting privatizing their health care. However, more than anything, a leader, or potential leader must think long and hard before sending them in harm’s way and it should only be as a last resort and not because a Mormon thinks he is a latter day American Israeli defending god’s chosen people or to secure oil. It is telling the Republicans will increase defense spending to start wars and kill Muslims, but when it comes time to care for the brave soldiers who fight their wars, they claim fiscal responsibility and slash their benefits and propose giving them vouchers that are insufficient to fund their health care.
President Obama is a staunch supporter of our military and especially veterans, and his reluctance to send them in harm’s way for no apparent reason has garnered condemnation from Romney and Republican warmongers who dishonor their commitment by slashing benefits and pushing for more wars. America owes it to its service members to support them during and after their service, and to employ them only to defend our nation; not to enrich the oil industry, Haliburton, or the defense industry. It is incumbent on all Americans to thank the brave men and women who defend our liberty every day by ensuring that we choose leaders who use their service prudently, and that after they have served, to fulfill the promise of providing the care they need; anything less dishonors their service and commitment. Republicans have shown they have as much contempt for veterans as they do for every other American, and it demonstrates they do not support the troops before, during, or after they send them to another needless war.