November 9, 2013
Monday, Veterans Day, we pay honor to the veterans of our various wars. Whatever you think about the validity of those wars and despite our penchant for seeing our veterans as either super heroes or super villains, Monday seems as good a time as any to remember that most of them are neither. Most veterans are simply our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters who joined the military to serve the nation and, perhaps, find a way out of poverty through the skills and discipline the military offers. That, in this time of declining Empire, so many of them were ground up and spit out by the Empire’s wars and warmongers is our shame as much as theirs for believing the propaganda and helping to perpetuate the myths that allow the Empire to do so and do it so often.
Today, unless we, personally, have or had a parent, child or sibling fighting those wars, the all-volunteer military allows us to disengage from the mental and physical damages of war in a way that previous wars – where every able-bodied person was subject to the draft and every family felt that shared dread – did not. We read on the internet, or see in the news, stories about the physical and mental injuries, the difficulties navigating the system, the high homeless and jobless rates, the growing number of suicides among the returning vets. We shake our heads and mutter, “How terrible. Why isn’t the government doing something?”
Then, wrapped up in the bread and circuses lives the Empire’s wars provide us with, we put a bumper sticker on our cars or a flag decal on the window. And one or two days a year, we take the family out to watch a parade and wave a flag made in China where the corporate arm of the Empire has too often unloaded the jobs those returning veterans need.
I have two brothers, a son and a stepson who served in the military – thankfully, none of them in combat. Of my father and his six brothers, all of whom served in the military, four served in World War I or II. I remember their faces from my childhood and I can tell you that none of them were super heroes or super villains, just ordinary men who had learned, first hand, the truth of war beyond the propaganda and myths and who struggled much of their lives to get back “home” from those wars.
From all I have read in the last decade of imperial wars, much of it written by our veterans, themselves, they struggle with the same thing – to truly come home from these wars. Too often, the Empire that ground them up and spit them out has failed them. Often, the nation they wanted to serve is failing them, too.
It’s not enough for us to wave a flag or go to a parade once a year or to slap a bumper sticker or flag decal on our cars. We have to see past the myths and propaganda and find the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters behind the myths and help them get home again.
Cities and towns are developing programs to help. Increasing numbers of veterans are taking matters into their own hands to start programs, some with national outreaches, that seek to heal themselves by helping to heal their fellow veterans. Take the time to seek them out, offer some support – financially or time wise.
As the Empire lurches on in its decline, hurried along by increasingly costly climate change disasters, declining and more expensive resources and a destabilizing financial system too enamored with its own power, we can’t afford to throw away the talents they have to offer. We can find ways to help them as they try to become part of the solution or we can leave them bitter and angry as they become part of the problem.
Here are a few that have chosen to be part of the solution: