Millions of Americans are still reeling from the shock and horror of discovering one of Donald Trump’s first actions as President was to scrub the pages dedicated to civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and climate change from the White House website. Now Trump, a man who has sworn allegiance and devotion to veterans but has never actually shown it, has eliminated the Joining Forces page. Joining Forces was a program developed by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden that sought to help veterans find careers, help their spouses more easily move their careers between states, and expand wellness services.
According to the Military Times, “Over the last five years, Joining Forces has received more than 1.25 million hiring commitments for veterans and military spouses from its corporate partners. It also has helped broker legislation enabling spouses to transfer certifications across all 50 states.”
The initiative had wide appeal among everyone who was devoted to veterans’ issues. The launch of Joining Forces saw former Republican First Lady Laura Bush joining President Obama to publicly promote the new program. Rear Adm. Brad Cooper was Joining Forces’ first executive. He said in November,
“I can … also remember when we had only two states that had military spouse legislation [on career transferability]. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden went to the governors meeting that year, and only ended up talking about military spouses. When you think about all the things they could have talked about, they chose just that one topic. They encouraged all the governors to pass legislation on that topic, and here we are today, with legislation in all 50 states.”
Every subsequent executive, all military officers, also praised Joining Forces for its important service to the veteran community. The only missing endorsement is Trump’s. On the campaign trail he refused to say whether he would continue Joining Forces if elected, while Hillary Clinton made a clear promise to maintain its good work. The uncertainty of whether Trump actually cares about protecting veterans is now even more uncertain with the removal of the Joining Forces page and the lack of announcement as to whether or not he will continue the program or restore it in some other form.
It is at the very least an attempt to prepare for significant changes and likely cuts to a program that is already producing incredible, life changing results.
More ominously, it seems to represent a willingness to stab veterans in the back after manipulating their support during the campaign with false promises and false hope. The men and women who courageously defend our country deserve better. They and their families make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of all Americans. For this, they should be honored and protected to the fullest extent by the government upon their retirement from service. They risk their physical and mental health, and their families risk losing a husband, wife, father, mother; it is our duty to repay them.
I had a different blog for today but I saw this article and I was shocked and angry. I will be honest with you, I am a pacifist and I was a loud protester against the Vietnam War; America’s illegal war. If you have never been to DC to see the Vietnam Memorial, I would suggest a visit sometime. After the war was over and the veterans came home, many of us did not welcome them home. Our feelings about them coming home were like an unsavory presence had invaded America. We thought of these vets as part of the government that illegally put us right in the center of another country’s civil war. Every night during dinner, the TV was on because the government would be picking the numbers of who would be the next to go to Vietnam. Every night. I had friends who went to Canada and some who registered as Conscientious Objectors. Guys would suddenly disappear. It was as if they were already dead.
To myself and many others, they were the substitutes for the government that we were really angry with; the government who only listened when American youth were marching and protesting. Over the years, I met several vets who talked to me about their experiences. One man in particular had some awful things to say. He was a good man, who was not the same man as he was when he was sent to Vietnam. I began to see that they weren’t responsible for the decisions our government made. They were scapegoats and, like all scapegoats, didn’t deserve the treatment they were given.
Since then, I see the difference between the youth who go to fight a war and the Presidents who put them on unfamiliar and hostile territory. In the wars fought in the Middle East, I still don’t support these wars, but I know that our young men and women veterans are trying to protect our country and the citizens of America. Now, I feel bad when vets come home disabled, missing limbs and in emotional stress. I feel that we have a responsibility to help , understand, and to accept them back into American life.
Now Trump is making noise and seeming that he will be less supportive of vets. I am sure Trump and the GOP plan to send more of our brave youth into the unending Middle East wars. When these vets come home the government and the American citizens need to accept them and assist them. The Joining Forces page was written and managed by Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to assist vets by providing information that they would need to become re-acclimated to American society. Trump seems to not be willing to continue the Joining Forces Page. Because Michelle Obama was part of the designers of the page? Perhaps because the page was run by women? It is hard to say, but the page has disappeared and this lifeline for vets has ended.
There are many things I don’t agree with in Trump’s administration, but I feel that it is unconscionable to turn his back on our country’s veterans. We need to continue to remind him that this country’s veterans are a large and important section of America.
American active forces are prepared to protect America.