First, it was the lack of care for the veterans at Walter Reed Hospital (go here). There was a protest but it was minimal, in part because the Veterans Administration is among the first agencies to lose funding in any administration’s budget.
Then, the Army decided that many of our soldiers were suffering from pre-existing conditions rather than Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (go here). So they were discharged and told to give back their enlistment bonuses (go here).
Then came the reports that our overseas units are stretched to the breaking point (go here) and our National Guard units here are essentially under-equipped and ill-prepared to be called to active duty (go here and here).
And now we read that the Army is telling representatives from the Veterans Administration to not help veterans with their disability paperwork because there is a “conflict of interest” (go here).
At some point when are we going to learn?
First, when are we going to learn that war is not the answer? When I was an undergraduate in college during the Viet Nam war, I came across a Mother’s Day present that spoke volumes in its simplicity. It said that “war is not healthy for children and other living things.” I would have thought that the organization behind this effort would have quietly disappeared after Viet Nam. Essentially it did, but with the threat of war in Iraq in 2003, it was reestablished as “Another Mother For Peace”.
And when are we going to understand that the war in Iraq was based on lies? We can tell ourselves today that we went into Iraq to free the Iraqi people from the oppression of Saddam Hussein but that is not what we were told when we invaded the country.
Then, after we “won” the 1st Gulf War, we encouraged the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow Hussein. But when he responded to the uprisings with terror and even more repression, we stood aside and let it happen. Of course, our track record in this is dismal. We stood by when the people of Poland rose up during the summer of 1956; we stood by when the people of Hungary rose up later that year (go here); we tried to start a revolution in Cuba in 1960; we let the tanks roll into Prague in the spring of 1968. Why should we have helped the people of Iraq?
If we seek the freedom of people, then we had better be prepared to do it when they want, not when it is politically convenient for us. But let us do it for the right reasons and not for some contrived ones. Every reason that we have been given for going to war in Iraq has been shown to be a lie; and each new reason that we have been given has also been shown to be a lie. Someone a long time ago said that the first casualty of war is truth. And the war in Iraq has provided the validity of that statement.
The cost of this war continues to rise and with each report of this Administration’s efforts to curtail the costs for veteran’s care, the cost for the coming generation rises as well (go here). We were told that we could fight the war in Iraq with what we had. But now the reports are telling us that what we have can barely do the job and there is nothing left for other tasks. We have mortgaged the future of this country and we expect our children and grand-children to pay the bills. Perhaps it is true that the sins of the parents will be passed on to the children.
When are we going to learn that war is not the answer? When are we going to say that the fulfillment of the Gospel message – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, heal the sick – is the only way? Yes, I know that Jesus also said that He came to free the oppressed and I am not ignoring that. But when there are people hungry, when there people naked, when people do not have decent housing, and they are sick and dying, they are quite willing to give up their freedom in order to have what they need.
We see it in our country today. We are being told that we must stop terrorism overseas or it will strike us here. But we do little to remove the conditions that cause terrorism to even exist.
When are we going to learn?