November 11, 1918 marked the armistice that began the end of the Great War (later called World War I), which was formally ended the following summer at Versailles. President Eisenhower later reconfigured Armistice Day into Veterans Day, at a time when there were enormous numbers of Americans who had served in World War II.
Despite the lip service often paid to veterans, society doesn’t always honor its obligations to them. Here are the ways they could more effectively be honored, or at least ways US politicians could avoid dishonoring them.
1. Tell Sen. Ted Cruz and the Tea Party not to shut down the Federal government as part of a political game in such a way as to threaten Veterans with not receiving their benefits.
2. Remind Sen. Ted Cruz and the Tea Party that 27% of Federal employees are Veterans, so arbitrarily closing the government down harms them and threatens their ability to meet, e.g., mortgage payments– they could have lost their homes.
3. Reverse the foolish “sequestration” budget cuts, which cut programs across the board rather than on the basis of their comparative value. Although the Veteran Affairs administration is spared in those cuts, many government programs for Veterans outside that department will be cut back.
4. Reverse the $5 bn in cuts to food stamps (SNAP); in any one month nearly a million veterans have lived in a household receiving food stamp help. Civilians like the chickenhawks in Congress don’t know this, but service personnel are paid almost nothing, so serving their country severely hurt their lifetime earnings, and many fall into circumstances where they need a little help. The Scrooges in the GOP in Congress just took food out of the mouths of their children.
5. Stop opposing Obamacare. About 1 million children and spouses of veterans do not have health care, but can get it under the Affordable Care Act.
6. Tell the GOP it it shouldn’t have blocked a $1 billion jobs bill for Veterans.
7. Fund more counseling services to prevent the over 8,000 suicides by Veterans every year, a toll that is certainly an underestimate and which has increased 11% since the middle of the last decade. Those who suffered intense conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan are at extra risk.
8. Reject a chained consumer price index (cpi), which over time will act as a de facto cut in Veterans’ benefits.
9. Help for Veterans to avoid homelessness or loss of mortgage. People who risked their lives for this country shouldn’t be on the street.
10. Stop needlessly and illegally creating more veterans of foreign wars; no war should be launched by the United States or any other country that isn’t in self defense or in response to a UN Security Council warning that a situation threatens the good order of the world.