Â As wars march on to the beat of those that never go to fight them, the veterans of those wars continue to suffer and be neglected. What if the first to go to war were the children of political officials as opposed to poor young people looking for a better life and a way to secure their future? Somehow if that were the law, I doubt there would be so many unnecessary political struggles.
I have discussed the neglect veterans experience when they return home from war and their inability to get adequate financial support of medical care. There is also a more subtle disadvantage to being a veteran who returns home from war â€“ discrimination.
Yes, discrimination, that terrible concept that divides people, breeds dissension and ultimately causes wars. Sen. Steve Hobbs, a veteran himself, introduced a bill to Washington in January to extend anti-discrimination laws to people with military status and veterans. Hobbs pushed the bill because of his own experiences after serving in Iraq and Kosovo, as well as the experiences of his fellow veterans. The Senator even recalls being asked questions at job interviews, such as if he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or if it would bother him to work with folks opposed to the war going on in Iraq. According to Hobbs, â€œI want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.â€
The bill failed last year, possibly because it had â€œrun out of timeâ€. I do wonder how much time they think distressed, neglected veterans and their families have â€“ some are still suffering the ramifications of the war in Vietnam. After all, consider myths created by movies such as The Deer Hunter, that wrongfully depict Vietnam veterans as crazed madmen, further perpetuating negative stereotypes. After all, wasn’t it bad enough these veterans returned home and got spit on, stoned, rejected and criticized as soon as they got back on American turf just for serving our country? They followed orders from those in power (voted in by the people who berated the soldiers, rather than those who sent them) and were condemned for it. How can we now question why young men would attempt to evade a draft? What do they have to gain? Disrespect from their country, injury without compensation and a political arena that fails to provide them with adequate support on any level? However, failure to serve in the military is obviously not the answer either.
Although it has been decades since Vietnam and these veterans still suffer discrimination today, many members of the Senate were actually surprised to learn how prevalent discrimination was from the statements of Hobbs. I do wonder where they have been, since there are countless accounts of what happened to the men who served in Vietnam â€“ men like my husband.
Sen. Derek Kilmer spoke to a soldier who was turned down for a job because of his service and said, â€œThe more people I spoke with, the more I heard this story is not at all uncommon.â€ Rep. Chris Strow adds about the proposed bill, â€œIt is a protection that is important. There are individuals who have disdain for people who choose to serve.â€
My husband recalls a time after Vietnam when post traumatic disorder in veterans were not even diagnosed yet and there was no help or recognition of the problem. He remembers a friend who found it so difficult to get work because of his service on the front lines that he used a fake name and social security number to get employment. This really hits the veteran hard because the reason many of these people join is to get an education or learn a skill and gain better employment opportunities.
Kilmer’s statement about passing this potential bill reflects my feelings about the issue. â€œIt’s just the right thing to do. If you’re willing to serve your country, you shouldn’t have to suffer financially for that.â€