This was not what I was going to blog about today, but it will wait. I am very upset about what is being unearthed about the Veterans Administration. I feel I need to do some explaining. First of all, I am a Pacifist. The Vietnam War saw me protesting and speaking out against an illegal war. There was also a draft. It was not our first one but it was the first draft I was alive to experience. Dinner time included parental rants about guys in long hair, and making sure rules were followed no matter how stupid they were. The television was always on and we watched the scenes in black and white of the horrors of death of war, the first time such images were presented so vividly to the masses. Then that day’s draft numbers were announced. There were sighs of relief or cries depending on what numbers had been called. I think my body has never forgotten the trauma. Some of the draftees were ready and willing to go and some were not. Some were Conscientious Objectors. They felt it was an illegal war and they did not believe in war, so they were not going to go and kill Vietnamese people. Some of these young men left, they went to Canada and most of those stayed in Canada because they couldn’t go fight in a war they didn’t believe in. So young men just disappeared. No, it was not millions of guys, but it was enough that you noticed as you lived your daily life.
The first Bush administration got us into the Persian Gulf War. An event I will admit brought me to tears. Since then I have prayed for every soldier I have seen. Since 9-11, I have seen so many, especially when I fly to visit family and friends. There was one flight to Fayetteville, NC and there were so many soldiers that all I had time to do was to pray for each of them to come home whole and healthy. Once when I landed, there was a soldier holding a gun at attention. I was not comforted. I was terrified while I prayed for his life.
Veterans come home now with far more injuries and more horrific injuries. I am not bothered by the sight of blood. My career as a nurse made that a non-event. But they are severely injured and the injuries will not heal. They will heal to a certain degree, but for millions of Veterans they will never be the same. They will never have the life that they planned. Their injuries are so horrible as the course of war changes and becomes more technical. The harm to the human body is much more severe. We also have men and women coming home without physical injuries but with severe PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have it after a traumatic life and finding my husband dead in our home of a massive heart attack. I know first hand how PTSD can make your life a nightmare, and I know the hard work dealing with PTSD entails and the help that is needed to even begin to recover.
George Bush got us into the Iraq War. Why? Because of a lie, that there were weapons of mass destruction. It was a huge lie and he has never been made to pay for it. Yet our young people did pay by losing their lives and suffering terrible injuries. Young people believed there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. I did not and neither did millions of others. The Bush administration said we were traitors. I say we were courageous. I love my country very much, but I know that our country’s government is capable of lying and has more than once lied to the American people. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now I am not saying Iraq was white as snow. But we were really there because of oil. We are very dependent on the Middle East for our oil supply.
Now that President Obama has announced that we will be bringing home more and more of our military personal from Afghanistan. This is wonderful. These men and women need to be here at home and not fighting in Afghanistan.
Now, to take a different perspective. When soldiers came home from Vietnam, we turned our backs on them. We blamed them for what the government had done. We left them to struggle on their own. I was the same way. I only changed after a long time friend, who had served in Vietnam asked me if he could tell me what happened to him. He told me he had never talked about the war before. I never knew why he chose me, but I sat and listened. I didn’t want to hear but how do you say no to a long time friend who needs your ear? So, we turned off the program China Beach and he talked for hours. At first I was just upset but as the story went on, I sobbed. I sobbed that human beings are asked to do and see such horror. He had been in a support group for Vietnam Vets but it hadn’t help. I don’t really know if I helped him, but he changed me. I realized we had been very wrong to reject Vets when they came home. I am very sorry it took so many of us so long to understand.
Vets are coming home now and American society accepts them readily and appreciate what they have given up to fight Terrorism. Injuries get worse. Many will never be able to work again. Many will never walk their daughters down the aisle. Many will never throw a football to their sons and daughters or take them backpacking. Now, they come home and we hail them as heroes/sheroes. I still hate war. I still think there must be a huge reason, a real reason to enter into a war. I will use WWII as an example. We accomplished closing the camps, the camps who killed millions of Jews, Poles, Serbs and Gypsies. This was a necessary war that we needed to fight and win. Iraq was not so justified, but that is in no way the fault of the soldiers who bravely fought for their country.
Now soldiers come home broken physically and emotionally and our Veterans Administration is broken. It is not serving the ones who need it the most. Vets have died waiting for medical care and /or emotional care. The mass shootings at Fort Hood showed us that people are falling through the cracks. There is so much that needs to be done to help Vets heal as much as possible. I agree that the head of the Veterans Administration should step down. But it can’t end there. One man did not create this nightmare for the young men and women coming home. If we send them to war, we have a sacred responsibility to do everything humanly possible to bring them to the best life we can give to them. We are not doing it and excuses will not help our Vets. The Wounded Warrior Project is helping and donating to them is a good way for all of us to help. But all of the executives in the Veterans Administration should be made to step down. One man did not cause this mess. Many so called leaders participated. It is important that all the people involved in the lack of health care given to our Vets must accept their responsibility in this fiasco. Every adult needs to accept responsibility for our actions and the leaders of our country must do the same. It is time to ramp up the Veterans Administration and to hold those accountable and they should be punished. This is a mandatory action that must begin happening soon.