America once felt enough respect and gratitude for the men and women who served in the Armed Services that it officially created a federal holiday on November 11th to honor the nation’s Veterans. Sadly, over the course of the past year America’s Veterans have not been honored by the Republican Party, and given the opportunity to assist the men and women who unselfishly put their lives on the line to serve this nation, the GOP has treated the nation’s Vets with the same blatant disregard for their general welfare as the rest of the population. In fact, Republicans have gone out of their way to keep America’s Veterans in a struggle to find work after returning from war.
On October 13th at the Million Vets March in Washington, freak of nature Ted Cruz said, “Our veterans should be above political games. Veterans have proven they are not timid. And we will not be timid in calling out anybody that uses the military as pawns.” Obviously, Cruz is not about to call out his own party, or condemn their political games that have kept the unemployment rate for recent Veterans serving from 2001 to the present at 10.1% in September 2013, or decried Republicans’ harsh cuts to SNAP (food stamps) that affect 57% of Vets under the age of 30 or the 9% who are over 60 years old. The idea of keeping Veterans hungry must be appealing to Republicans, but it pales in their drive to block any attempt to assist returning Veterans find employment.
It has been over a year since Senate Republicans blocked legislation to create a Veterans Job Corps that would have cost the nation a pittance because they claimed it was too pricey while they approved giving free taxpayer dollars to the oil industry in the form of subsidies. Prior to the Republican’s killing the $1 billion measure meant to provide employment for Veterans in conservation work, Veterans Affairs Department, police, and fire departments, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued an appeal to allow the bill to move forward. “Partisan bickering should never stand in the way of creating job opportunities for the New Greatest Generation, especially with a 10.1% unemployment rate.” As one of the Democrats sponsoring the Veterans Job Corps noted, “Republican opposition stemmed from refusal to support any initiative that originated in the White House,” that is precisely what Ted Cruz said Republicans would not be timid in calling out; using Veterans as political pawns.
The Republican blocking the legislation, Senator Jeff Sessions, objected to the $1 billion program because although it was paid for, it would have pushed VA over the spending limits set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Sessions lied and said he was just as concerned as anyone about Veterans unable to find work after returning from putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he simply could not comport adding $1 billion in spending to the Veterans Administration budget for 2013 unless they were able to cut funding from some other part of the VA. Session’s lack of interest in helping Veterans find work is typical of Republicans, and it was just a little over two months ago that former teabag Senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint said providing healthcare for Veterans was “un-American” and “built on principles of Socialism and collectivism.”
It is bad enough Republicans blocked a jobs program for Veterans to keep them out of work, but they also are keeping nearly a million veterans and their families hungry by refusing to act and restore $5 billion in food stamp funding that ran out of money on November 1st. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), “in any given month, a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP [food stamps] to provide food for their families.” It is likely that Republicans hold America’s heroes in the same contempt as they do the rest of Americans struggling to eat, but one wonders if they would dare tell a Veteran to their face that they were guilty of “Fraud, Absolute 100 percent, all of it is fraud. There’s fraud all through that.” Or perhaps they would tell the men and women who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country and desperate for a job “that if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat,” or that withholding food assistance to unemployed Vets is meant to “advance the dignity of work.”
This past weekend, three Veterans struggling to find work or barely surviving in part-time jobs earning minimum wages told this author they would love nothing more than to stand close to a Republican when they said providing healthcare, or food stamps, to Veterans was un-American. The Vets, all in their late twenties, were incensed that after going to war and risking their lives and seeing billions spent on creating jobs and feeding poor Afghanis, Republicans had to temerity call them, or any struggling American lazy, undeserving of help, and in need of a work ethic.
Republicans dare not say their disregard for Veterans is due to fiscal responsibility, because as Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org said “there are pricey Pentagon projects the defense department doesn’t even want that Congress insists on funding,” and it is due to Republicans’ tendency to enrich the defense industry while keep Veterans unemployed, hungry, and often homeless. America’s Veterans do not necessarily want strangers thanking them for their service; they served out of a sense of duty and patriotism. They want what every American wants; a good job, adequate healthcare, and security for their families. Unfortunately but they will never get any of those as long as Republicans are allowed to block job programs, cut food stamps for those unable to find living-wage jobs, or treat Veterans like lazy undeserving moochers.
Instead of thanking America’s Veterans, the people of this nation must resolve to throw out Republicans who love young men and women they can send to war for oil and to profit the defense industry, and then keep them unemployed by either killing jobs or worse; playing politics by blocking Veterans jobs programs because they initiated in the Obama White House. If any American feels they have to thank the men and women who served their country voluntarily and at great risk of bodily harm, or worse, death, do not hesitate to tell them there are millions of Americans fighting to help them find good jobs and provide for their families’ by eliminating the only obstacle to their success; Republicans who dishonor Veterans’ service by treating them with the same contempt as they do the rest of the people. Happy Veterans’ Day, and a heartfelt thank you to America’s Veterans who deserve better than to live in a nation that keeps them jobless, hungry, and all too often homeless.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.