Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Your Service Is No Longer Appreciated

With Veterans Day upon us I felt it would be fitting to begin a new blog with a mention about Veterans Day, a national holiday that was originally envisioned by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 to signify the ending of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany that went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918 was recognized as the inception date for Veterans Day. I could say it is a funny thing, but given the severity and reverence of the issue, I will say instead that it is more like a disgrace how slow sometimes the government works and how politicians have and continue use military actions and service for political gain or convenience. Although the idea of Veterans Day was considered in 1919, and many states would implement local observances, it was not until October 8th 1954 that President Dwight Eisenhower signed the first Veterans Day Proclamation in support of public law issued on June 1st 1954 making November 11th a official legal holiday in honor of all Veterans ( ) There had been previous resolutions in 1926 and 1938, however instead of all Veterans the focus was on the WWI Veterans only and excluded all other Veterans. 

Many of us know that history seems to repeat itself and taking care of Veterans is no different. Since the beginning of 9/11 a renewed interest in Veterans has been brought to the forefront of politics and local communities, all deserving and worthwhile. With the new interest there has also been the tendency for many to focus only on the post 9/11 Veterans and frankly ignore the pre 9/11 Veterans. This includes legislation for Veterans benefits like the GI Bill which many aspects exclude pre 9/11 Veterans. 

While it is commendable that our nation is making efforts to provide for its Veterans, I point out; or rather ask the question why was there not this focus on Veterans prior to 9/11?  Many who are not familiar or associated with the military may come up with a variety of answers, ignoring the fact that a Veteran is a Veteran, regardless of when they served, be it Vietnam or prior, or the countless untold and forgotten military actions since.  
1970 NYC Hard Hats & Protesters
I am reminded of the early 1970’s when I was a teenager in New York City and on the news and on the streets would witness the anti-war demonstrations and confrontations between the demonstrators and Hard Hats ( ). It was also a time when military personal could not safely wear a uniform, and for those who did they were mocked, spit on and attacked by the very people they were defending. The public opinion did not stop me and many others from joining the military. I joined in the Army in January 1975 and staying for 21 years as did many other who I’ve come to know over the years. When we joined and even until after retirement most of us had an impression we had certain benefits, and although we did, they were chiseled away which passed financial burdens onto military retirees. Some examples of these were the adding of premiums and co-pays for health insurance (yes, used not to have to pay that) and expiring GI bill benefits.

As I rant I want to clarify that the service of our current military and post 9/11 Veterans is indeed very appreciated, which brings me to one more point. How long will it take for people and elected officials like US Senator McCaskill of Missouri to forget them too? I bring up Senator McCaskill only because I had sent her and the other elected officials in Missouri a letter voicing my concern that the new GI bill excluded pre 9/11 Veterans and I disagreed with the new bill. Senator McCaskill was the only one who replied, a good thing right? Wrong!  Her response was “Thank you for supporting the new GI Bill.” So I guess her response is an indicator that it won’t take too long for our post 9/11 Veterans to be forgotten, which brings us to the title of this blog post, “Your Service Is No Longer Appreciated.”

We can only give our gratitude, love and support to all our Veterans and can never really re-pay them for their service and sacrifice. With the recent historic mid-term elections and a larger percentage of Veterans being elected to office, hopefully history will not repeat itself and Veterans voices will have a louder voice being represented by Veterans who will not forget.

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