Monday, September 7, 2020

And, what of those who have never been the same?

    My post of yesterday dealt with only those American service people who have died in the defense of our Freedom.  There is a much larger contingent of veterans who made it through alive, but have lived the rest of their lives with the wounds--both physical and spiritual--they sustained from being in a situation that most certainly is the closest approximation of HELL ON EARTH.

   When a human being is immersed in this maelstrom of violence it has a profound effect on their entire being and for the rest of their earthly years.  These Heroes, and, despite what the Idiot thinks with his tiny little pea-brain, they are heroes on a scale that he can only fantasize about.  At some function a vet gave him their Purple Heart.  I have no idea what this particular soul thinks the Idiot has done that would allow him to even handle this medal, but, the asshole accepted it as if he's earned it and held it up, and said, "I've always wanted one of these."  Yes, he had the temerity to actually act as if he did win it.  I felt vomitus creeping up the back of my throat.

"Cringeworthy" doesn't begin to describe this.
  Here in Maine, they issued a new version of the veteran's license plate, a nice looking item with red, white and blue in a design that is easily seen from a distance.  And, Maine vets really took to it, so that now you see it on what seems like every third vehicle, but, in reality, is more like one in ten or twelve.  You cannot drive through our town without seeing it many times.  Likewise, our cemeteries are liberally sprinkled with the small American flags that the VFW or AmVets, or whomever put on the graves of veterans.  In the burial ground just down the road from me, it appears to a passerby as if almost every grave has one.  Realistically, at least half of them do.

  Service to the country has been an indigenous part of Maine culture going back to the Revolution, and it was soldiers of the 20th Maine who saved the day at Little Roundtop on the first day of the three day battle at Gettysburg.  The whole shebang could have gone very badly for the Union had Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and his stalwart Mainers not been able to hold the end of the line. 

 Now, we are immersed in vets who have served as many as five or six tours in Afghanistan or Iraq, and come home in real pain. A friend who has spent many years going to veterans' groups for support of his own struggles from 'Nam, has said that he's seeing many more vets who are in real trouble with PTSD.  One or two tours over there would be a lot, more than anybody really should have to bear.  But, FIVE OR SIX?  And, one reason for their multiple tours is that congress has been too cowardly to re-institute the draft.  If you are going to have perpetual wars, then you need to have a fair and copious source of personnel.  To have a few bear a burden that should be shared across the societal spectrum should be avoided and regarded as a last resort in a much more dire situation.

  But, the sons of the upper and middle-class are pretty much sitting this one out unless they have volunteered out of a sense of their own duty and conscience.  Despite the highly dubious reasons for being there at all, there are still a few Americans who are willing to step-up and serve. Wars tend to be fought by those at the bottom and lower echelons of the socio-economic scale.  Used to be that judges frequently resorted to telling young males in trouble that they could go join the military...or go to jail.  Yes, that was a common occurrence.

  Now, military recruiters haunt high-schools and pitch soon to graduate students on how great it would be to be a Marine, or a Ranger, or a fighter pilot.  They have very professional videos that make it all look and sound like just a real-life video game. Wow!  Where do I sign-up?

   People have adopted the idea that it's a decent gesture of support to say, "Thank you for your service."  And, while that is not a bad thing, certainly it's a much better thing than how we got treated during Vietnam.  People actually did shout craven insults at military personnel.  I was hitching between Ft. Dix NJ and Trenton...and some asshole threw a beer at me..along with some shouted insults just to demonstrate what an asshole sounds like, I guess.

  So, we have this very sizable population living among us every day, of men and women who did volunteer and who paid a heavy, often a heart-rending, price for doing that.  And, we treat them like shit.  Not you and me so much...but the VA and the whole government relationship to vets.  It's not anything near what it should be. 

   I mentioned my father-in-law, Donald Downs.  Despite the 2 Bronze and 1 Silver Star medals, he was treated so badly by VA doctors and hospitals that it still makes my wife seethe after all these years.  We pay 'lip service' and then treat them like pariahs.  How is that okay?

    And, now, we have this draft-dodging coward in the White House who feels free to call all of these vets, alive and dead, losers and suckers. 

   So, I am trying to understand why any honorable vet would support him with their vote.

   I just don't get it.

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