Veterans Day is the official holiday to honor Americans who have served in the United States Armed Forces, but it is clearly not something Republican congressional representative acknowledge. Oh, they give lip service to Veterans, and abuse them regularly and use them for their own agenda, but they clearly have no respect for their valiant service and sacrifices. In fact, for well over a decade, at least, Republicans have done everything within their power to dishonor their service.
The idea of using members of the Armed Services for their own agenda began in earnest during the lead up and throughout the unnecessarily wasteful Iraq War. Bush, particularly, was fond of claiming that any American opposing the invasion and occupation of Iraq was “not supporting the troops” and blatantly unpatriotic. Bush was able to keep opposition to the war relatively silent because no American in their right mind wanted to wear the label of not supporting America’s fighting men and women.
What is telling, is that it was the Bush Administration, and over the past six years, Republicans who have dishonored “the troops” service after they laid their lives on the line and returned home to an ungrateful Republican Party. Just last week, Republicans John Boehner and Mitch McConnell announced that as part of their “storied” jobs agenda, they expected President Obama to sign a so-called jobs bill; “Hire More Heroes Act of 2014.” It certainly sounds like Republicans support Veterans and are on a crusade to help them find gainful employment, but like every so-called Republican “jobs bill,” it is just another ruse, and gift to big business and the Kochs, to abolish the Affordable Care Act.
The bill, H.R. 3474, consists of one amendment to the Internal Revenue Code to give large employers authority to exclude former service members from having access to employer-provided healthcare. The estimated number of jobs for Veterans is zero, and in the less-than one page text of the bill, there is not provision in the legislation to hire “more heroes” whatsoever and the word jobs or hiring are not to be found; that should not surprise anyone. Republicans could not care less about Veterans, or as they call them, “America’s Heroes,” except using them for a title of a bill inspired by the Koch brothers.
For the past nearly six years, Republicans have adopted extreme measures, and proffered outrageous arguments, to oppose President Obama and congressional Democrat’s myriad initiatives and legislation to help Veterans find any kind of work, access job training, or get the benefits a nation that “supports the troops” would provide. In fact, after Republicans blocked several of the President’s jobs initiatives for Veterans, he had to take matters into his own hands and announce that 50,000 Veterans would receive training in the growing solar panel industry. When Republicans take control of the entire Congress in January, the President’s order will go the way of every other Veteran’s jobs initiative from this President; straight to abolishment. It is the Republican idea of how not to hire, and dishonor, Veterans they call “America’s Heroes.”
Two years ago, when Republicans could have demonstrated their commitment to “Hire American Heroes” by supporting a Democratic bill proposed and championed by President Obama, they blocked it using their favorite weapon; the filibuster. Republicans claimed the bill establishing a veterans jobs corps to employ veterans in conservation, recreation, and resource management projects on public lands; and as firefighters and police officers was a waste of money. This was after they argued vehemently that the very thought of eliminating tens-of-billions in free money (subsidies) for the highly-profitable oil industry was just downright un-American and traitorous. In fact, one of the largest recipient of oil industry money, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), warned that helping “America’s Heroes” find jobs or receive job training “will undermine the nation’s economy.” But giving the oil industry more money in one year than the ten-year jobs bill will not undermine the economy because it is the American, and patriotic, thing to do.
Republican Senator Jeff Sessions (ARK) went a step farther and said that Senate Republicans blocked discussion on the bill because, “Americans don’t trust us, and why should Americans trust us when we use gimmicks (code for money slated for the rich)” to help Veterans, or as Republicans call them, American Heroes find decent jobs. It is noteworthy that Republican never used “gimmicks” to enrich the oil industry that profited wildly from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars; they just claimed they were “supporting the troops.”
In February of 2014, Republicans blocked another Veteran’s bill paid for with expiring overseas contingency funds because “the money we were going to spend on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we never had because we were borrowing it, and now we are going to use it for something like this?” That was according to the senior Republican on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee Senator Richard Burr (NC). So it is perfectly acceptable to borrow a few trillion dollars to execute an unnecessary war that killed and maimed “American Heroes,” but not to care for them once their usefulness to Republicans’ oil industry and military-industrial complex donors was outlived.
The bill introduced by Bernie Sanders (I-VT) contained a rash of benefits and program changes Veterans’ groups advocated including improved services for military sexual assault victims, new fertility treatment options for wounded veterans, and an extension of health care coverage for recently returned veterans. It also contained provisions to ensure in-state tuition rates for all Post-9/11 GI Bill users that would have saved tens-of-thousands in tuition costs for Veterans using the GI Bill to attend out-of-state public schools.
Veterans groups, those “American Heroes” Republicans claim to honor, labeled the Republican obstruction over Veteran’s benefits another Washington embarrassment. According to the National President of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Bill Lawson, “The partisanship in Washington has left this important veterans legislation in its wake. We are deeply disappointed that the Senate Republicans could not support the men and women who have already sacrificed so much for this country.” That is the problem Veterans will continue facing with Republicans; if they could hardly support their sacrifice when they were sent to war, then why do they think they will support them when their service is finished?
It is true that Republicans hold the entire population in contempt, but naming legislation that is a gift to corporations a jobs bill to “Hire More Heroes,” without providing one job has to be the ultimate act of contempt. Members of the Armed Services deserve unrestricted support during their service to this country, something Republicans oppose unconditionally; including suggesting giving Veterans a coupon as a replacement for V.A. benefits. It is shameful enough, and an abomination, that thousands of active duty service members require food stamps to support their families, but to be used by Republicans to enrich corporations is despicable.
The President and Democrats have honored Veterans from day one of Obama’s first term by fighting to provide them with jobs and their well-earned benefits. Conversely, Republicans have dishonored America’s Heroes in both word and deed for over a decade, but particularly since a Black man is in the White House. If nothing else, every American should thank a Veteran to assure them that all Americans are not like dishonorable Republicans.
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.