Monday, September 2, 2013

Before We Go Into Syria, We Need To Make Sure We Have Service Members' and Veterans' Support in Place.

I am watching CNN live-streaming right now.  John Mc Cain and Lindsey Graham are having a joint press conference about Syria.  I hear them saying they want something bigger than a limited strike.  That, "We didn't act fast enough and now we need something bigger."

CNN said the message is how it will be "catastrophic" if Congress rejects a strike.

You know what I consider catastrophic?  That we are yet again on the eve of attacking another county and veterans are still waiting for services.

 I have been a patient in the Veteran's Healthcare system since 1994.  I was in the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia doing drills and preparation with thousands of others sitting on ships in the water in 1991, while families sat at home and worried.  It's 2013, and here we are again.  "They" are saying there will be no "boots on the ground".  That may be true, but what about those waiting aboard ships, on military bases overseas standing by with their chemical warfare gear at the ready in case they get hit by chemical weapons.  Syria gassed it's own people.  Gassing our military is a possible risk we need to be prepared for, here at home in our military and veteran's hospitals.

Look, I know that this is a huge unknown.  I would not want to be in President Obama's shoes right now making these decisions, or any member of congress.  But I would like to ask those who are making decisions to launch anything, PLEASE have programs in place for future veterans to get them in the VA Healthcare system BEFORE they get cancer, unexplainable respiratory disorders, caregiver support, family support and compensation.

While I listened to my neighbors in 2003 cheer for a war in Iraq and saying things like, "Iraqi oil will pay for this war." Or, "it will last six months", as I saw kids young enough to be my offspring visit my VA hospital missing limbs returning from Iraq, not one of my neighbors shouting for that war seemed to care what happened to our  service members while it was happening.  Except of course the families of those who were in harm's way coming home in boxes and missing limbs.  It took non-profits like IAVA and Wounded Warrior Project to get people not directly effected to care about the real cost of war.  And don't hand me that line they were fighting for our freedom.  Freedom to what?  Vacation in Iraq?  Have you been to the middle east?  Many Americans couldn't find Iraq on a map in 2003.  Our troops over there were not fighting for our freedom.  They may have left believing they were, but ask anyone who has seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they will tell you they were fighting to protect their brothers and sisters they were serving with.  Those in combat fought to protect one another from harm, and when they returned they were given forms to fill out and told to wait.  Care has improved at the VA, but many are still waiting for benefits.  Many died before they were able to get help because they committed suicide.  Every 65 minutes, a veteran or service member commits suicide. (Forbes and Department of Veteran's Affairs report.)

We did not prepare for the fight at home before the fight abroad.  

Watch this clip of Jon Stewart explaining this mess in March of 2013.  

So, we have a backlogged Veteran's Healthcare system because we did not plan for our returning veterans BEFORE we attacked anyone last time.  Okay, pretty much every time we have ever attacked anyone.  So this time, let's learn from the mistakes of our past and  GET IT TOGETHER PEOPLE.

You want to show Assad he can't get away with genocide?   Fine.  Before we "bring it" to Assad, you had better make it easier for those who return home and their families.  Because if we don't take care of our own, we have no business attacking anyone else because they harmed their own people.  This is not a partisan matter.  This is a human being matter.

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