Some thank yous to those who supported the DAV, and some continued kicks for Congress
This will be my post-Memorial Day column and the first item on the agenda is to give a great big ‘thank you’ to all of you who donated to the DAV’s fundraising drive held on Memorial Day, Monday the 28th. I have no way of predicting what we’ll end up getting but I feel the people of North Idaho will be as generous as they have been in the past. An even bigger ‘thanks’ goes out to all those volunteers who stood out there and ‘Shook Their Cans’ to keep our DAV van on the road for another year. All they asked in return for the “Forget-Me-Nots” they handed out was a smile and—hopefully—a small donation that helps area veterans get the medical treatment they need.
Moving on—In last month’s article I said that the draft was ended in 1975 by President Gerald Ford. That statement was and is true. Registration for the draft was re-instated retroactively back to 1975 by President Carter in July of 1980 requiring all males 18 years of age to register with the Selective Service. That law continues in effect to this day. But—and it is a large ‘but’—I can find no record of anyone actually being drafted after they registered with their local Selective Service board. In fact, I can find no information of any Selective Service board actually being convened to select draftees for military service. So, what we have is an All-Volunteer Armed Forces that constitutes a very small segment of the total population.
Continuing with my theory, we have a large division within our country—those who serve, or have served, in the military as opposed to the huge majority of citizenry that have never served—and most likely, never will. The vast majority of citizens (over 96 percent) have no real contact with the military, the families of military people or even have friends who are in the military. The military community is a vastly different universe than that lived in by most Americans. There are no shared experiences to base a dialogue on. This is a very real problem.
Most Americans simply can neither understand nor comprehend the stresses placed on the spouses and children of our service people with prolonged and multiple deployments. These spouses left at home are forced to fulfill both parental roles for months at a time. They must be both the disciplinarians and the comforters within the home. It is their ‘stay-at-home-role’ that is, in many ways, the hardest. We have the best trained, best equipped, most professional military we’ve ever had in the entire history of this country. While they are deployed in the field their spouses at home must deal with school work, bill collectors, sick pets, broken appliances, stopped up toilets, filling tax returns, balky furnaces and—to top it off—having to worry if their spouse will come home alive. The only situation I can come up with that is similar is a single-parent household having to deal with all of the above scenarios but it falls a little short when it comes down to the soul-deadening, 24/7 additional worry of the potential death or wounding of that absent spouse.
We need to re-think this situation. This separation is not healthy for the nation as a whole. We cannot continue having all the sacrifices made by one group of Americans while the vast majority of Americans are enjoying the fruits of those sacrifices. We cannot continue to give short shrift to our returning veterans just so the majority can enjoy the benefits of that which the veterans have given us. Everything worth having requires concessions and sacrifices. All the sacrifices cannot be carried on the shoulders of a small minority. There must be a ‘Fair & Balanced’ (to borrow a phrase) system. It is incumbent that every American participates and contributes to the common good commensurate with their ability to pay. If we are to have a healthy and viable society this must be the way things happen. The sacrifices must be shared.
As our veterans return from Afghanistan and try to re-integrate back into civilian society, what are they faced with? High unemployment, underfunded assistance and aid services at every level and a Congress that is gridlocked into almost complete immobility. It appears that Congress is totally committed to making the federal government unable to function for the good of the people. And, the obstructionists on the Far Right have done an excellent job at that task.
Over the past 18 months the House and Senate have done a marvelous job of creating a new standard for mediocrity in public service. Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, I personally feel that a minimum of fifty-nine of them have done absolutely nothing to warrant returning them to office for the 113th Congress in January 2013. They have blocked just about every bill that would give benefit to those that most deserving our thanks and gratitude—our returning veterans. These Congressmen have repeatedly thwarted doing anything positive for the American people or for our returning servicemen and women. We need to provide jobs, training and medical services for our veterans. The ‘Ryan Budget’ as passed by the House has no mention of the word ‘veteran’ and provides no funding for any program that would do the needed things for our returning heroes.
I like to close on a positive note—There is a program in the works that may have a real benefit for our local newer veterans. The US Chamber of Commerce is starting up a program nationwide to encourage local employers to hire returning veterans. The information I have on hand indicates that the local Chamber is looking for sixteen employers to participate in the “Hire Our Heroes” program to be held on July 16 at the VFW Post at the corner of Pine & Division in Sandpoint. I hope to have further information in time for next month’s issue.
Again, a heartfelt and sincere ‘Thank You’ to all who donated on Memorial Day and to all of you that were out there ‘Shaking Your Cans’ for the DAV—I’m proud to have worked with every one of you on this worthwhile project. Until next month, take care and be safe.