I have been blessed to know many current and former military personnel. My father is a veteran of the Korean War, My oldest son served his country as a member of the United States Navy, and my middle son is about embark on his own career as a member of the United States Navy. I am quite proud of all of this and I am in awe of their exceptional desire to protect this country at times of war and in times of peace.
Although war is hell, and I am ever mindful that as a member of the military you serve at the discretion of the Commander in Chief. I am also mindful that your service to or country has nothing to do with whether or not you agree with our leadership but to know when called you perform with dignity and excellence in spite of your personal beliefs and that is a truth for every generation of soldier.
During the beginning stages of the Iraq War you will remember that there was a great division in this country as to whether or not we should even be there. We debated and still do whether or not that war was the right war to fight. We argued and complained about so many issues and the divisiveness centered on the conservative mindset that if you didn’t support the war then you didn’t support the troops. I’m sure you all remember that, and of course that fallacy was infuriating for me.
I did not and do not support the war in Iraq. I have sound fundamental reasons for that, but I staunchly supported and do support the troops, including my own son and on this day or remembrance and respect for and to the troops I want to offer my and my families greatest and deepest gratitude for all of you that serve and have served this country with honor and pride.
But saying thank you and being sincere in not enough. War is hell and as time and technology has progressed, so has the massive amount of severely disabled soldiers. And while there have always been a generous package of benefits offered soldiers, I have always felt that we can and should do more, especially as it relates to their health care, both physical and mental. We are not doing enough to invest in the future care of men and women who performed admirable only to be placed in harms way and then to be harmed in that process.
Veteran’s hospitals have been over burdened and underfunded for decades now and the demands on these centers will increase many times over as both the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War come to a conclusion. We are not prepared at this point to deal with what for too many will be a lifetime of health care issues, many of them severe. We ask a great deal of our soldiers and they are made promises that are not always kept. And as much as having a dedicated day of thanks and remembrance is a wonderful thing, an ongoing effort must be made to assure that whatever needs that need to be met are met with as little hassle as possible. We are not there yet.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has become a part of our every day language. PTSD will remain one of the top issues this country will be dealing with at an alarming rate over the next 20-50 years as the men and woman who serve are returned to their lives back home. We are not prepared to deal with this issue in a proactive way and certainly not at the level that will show true respect to the men and women who suffer this malady.
In past wars what was once an immediate death sentence no longer is with the advancement of medial technology that thankfully saves more battlefield injured than ever before, but it has also created a remarkably expensive long term medical need. I know we are woefully unprepared to deal with this.
In order to fully honor our military, both past and present, we must be certain that their needs are met on a daily basis, no matter the cost. Veterans Day is critical and important; Veteran’s lives are even more so. If we want to truly honor these men and women in the proper way, take some time today not to just thank them for serving, but to write a letter to your Congressman and Senators and ask them to be proactive in making sure that when the time comes to care for their post war service that they want for nothing. I can’t imagine we can’t all agree on that.
Once again, I want to thank those who have served. I am thankful for a country that is free and strong, and we have you to thank for that.
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Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can read his Blog at www.mediatraining.me.