Today’s guest article is by Larry Hodgden of Tipton. Larry is a retired Viet Nam era veteran of the USAF. He and his wife of 40 years, Sharon, have three children and seven grandchildren who keep him very busy. Family, education, church and politics have been a lifelong passion.
As a veteran, USAF 1965-70, and a Democrat, I am deeply concerned about our military veterans. The VA budget has increased by 40 billion dollars per year under Obama and we are still not even close to meeting the needs of our veterans.
Consider that claims are still rising from Viet Nam era vets and then add the claims of 2.3 million Iraq-Afghanistan vets, of whom 437,000 have suffered traumatic brain injuries, 800,000 suffer from PTSD, and 14,500 are permanently disabled with loss of limbs. It is little wonder an underfunded Veteran’s Administration cannot keep up with over a million requests for help each year.
The policy of using the National Guard to fight these latest wars, subjecting them to numerous deployments and disruption of their lives, has led to a high rate of divorce and bankruptcy. Every day 22 veterans commit suicide and there are over 100,000 homeless veterans living on our streets, under bridges and in parks.
The dollar cost of Bush/Cheney’s “great adventure” is over 3 trillion, and this doesn’t include more than 2 trillion needed for future care of our veterans. The hidden cost, in human terms, for veterans and their families is far greater.
More than 50 years ago, President Eisenhower warned us “to beware the military-industrial complex”. While our veterans and their families carried the burden of war, many Americans made millions from our military ventures and misadventures. Think Dick Cheney and Haliburton/KBR along with the hundreds of military suppliers who profited from the blood shed by our brave soldiers.
Even today the neo-cons and right wing commentators would have us stick our foot into the tar pit of Iran, Syria, and Ukraine with huge profits in mind, all the while basking in the security of a Republican party which keeps cutting their taxes. Those “chicken hawks”, including Bush, apparently learned nothing from Viet Nam. So the next time you hear a right-winger criticizing President Obama for diplomatic efforts while they advocate military engagement, remember who profits and who pays “the true cost of war”.
This Memorial Day, as we honor those who paid the ultimate price in the service of their country, let us remember their families and all the veterans who continue to bear the heavy burden of war.