Top 10 Ways to Really Honor our Veterans

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.

Posted in US politics | 31 Responses | Print |

31 Responses

  1. It’s not about benefits for actual soldiers, it’s an ideological shadow play about something we don’t dare say in front of microphones:

    The “real” white American race was manufactured to be a conquering, warrior tribe, and the conservative movement is promising their followers the “liberty” of reverting to this barbarism. That includes the normal right of the conqueror to abuse those they have subjugated: blacks who were too inferior to escape the slavecatchers, Mexicans who were too inferior to escape annexation, all the immigrants who have come crawling to God’s country on their hands and knees begging for jobs. But since they can’t actually say that, they need code words and front institutions to distinguish the organs of a warrior society from the supposed evil “Big Government” that wrongly represents the inferiors. Thus, the refusal of elderly right-wingers to accept that Social Security and Medicare are “government” programs, rather than the payment due to their “good”, heavily-white generation from us worthless, polluted, multicultural young Americans. A tribal obligation or tribute. Same for healthcare; the old are whiter and thus purer Americans, so they should have it and the young should be denied it. It doesn’t matter that the private insurance many right-wingers have actually sucks. So it’s the same with veterans’ benefits. A tribal obligation that acts as a coded signal that the violent patriot race is “special”, even if the benefits suck. They are perfectly willing to use their entitlements and war budget to wipe out all the rest of the government.

    • Your constant drumbeat that “White Americans” are responsible for all of the ills of the world and the United States got stale long ago. It reveals far more about your pathologies than it does about white Americans, or any other Americans for that matter.

  2. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 marked the end of the Great War.

    8.8 million combatants perished.

  3. link to

    Agree with all of the above. However, in fairness and as a former enlisted combat arms service member I might add for my colleagues on the left of the political spectrum a different challenge: Here’s what you might consider in return. Mind you, I don’t have ten, just one big steaming hot one that will probably annoy your desire to sniff the air and make mouths at the invisible event. But no worries, I’m probably too late and this ship has sailed.

    But for what it’s worth, please my fellow travelers on the left would be so kind as to stop trying to make the military an instrument of social engineering? Agreed wholeheartedly that the integration of African Americans and other ethnic minorities into the military was at once successful and a major source of strength for today’s combat forces. But let’s not over-learn that lesson. In that case doing it eliminated inefficiencies and implemented a process that had been underway already.( Please not that this history is much more complex than the classic comics version you may have seen on tv.)

    By contrast, today’s social agenda, which includes putting women and gay Americans into combat arms units, is destructive of morale for one and inefficient to implement for the other (I’ll let you guess). Whether you like it or not, people who join combat arms units are among the most conservative members of society. They don’t view the world like you do no matter how many times you thank them for their service. Most of them are patriotic and believe in helping others – there are several European and American surveys confirming this personality trait. But anyone who’s served in this capacity with a little self-reflection also knows the dirty little secret that about 10-15 percent of our combat soldiers could charitably be described as sociopaths. They enjoy the opportunity to kill people and blow sh*t up. Full stop. Managing them is already a difficult task for the officer corps. It’s called the humpty dumpty rule: let things a little out of control and you’ll never get unit discipline and morale back together.

    So forcing these folks to accept that they give up some of their liberty to serve their country is one thing. It’s manageable. Forcing them to give up some liberty to serve your utopian vision of a better America is quite another. Why not give it a rest a little and let the “times they are a changin” work its will over one or two generations more? And if you want compromise on this point, fine. Happy to meet you part way. Start with the officer corps. Among officers, it’s well known that denial of service in combat arms units limits one’s promotion track. So a good argument can be made for gay and female officers doing well in that role will meet less resistance and the logistics are simpler.

    As I said, I’m likely too late although I suspect implementing these policies in the combat arms milieu will prove a little more difficult than my social betters imagine. For me, I like to look at the bright side of death and destruction. Contrary to Hegel’s “war is the cool breeze that whisks away the fetid air” I agree with Dr. Cole’s point number 10. I also believe that implementing these social engineering policies now will lead to attrition of many of our more dedicated and effective combat soldiers. Less of them will join, many more won’t re-up. And collectively all of this will weaken our ability to prosecute wars abroad. Well, there you have it. Who knows? Perhaps that was the plan all along. Have a nice day.

    • Also a vet of combat arms – infantry – both as junior NCO and junior officer. Agree with Bob S on the social experimentation / engineering.

      I would not lead a small unit into combat with women or gays. Too dangerous for the unit. Far as I can tell, EVERYONE who advocates this experimentation doesn’t understand what happens in combat.
      The stories about women combat soldiers in Israel, Netherlands, &tc., none of them ring true. And they don’t involve the sort of operations that American grunts are conducting today in A’stan.

      If this only affects our ability to conduct wars of agression, then its not so bad. But it might also affect our ability to defend ourselves, should the need arise.

      and yes, point # 10 is sound.
      The other 9 are a bit like partisan bickering, misrepresenting what the other half of the one major party stands for.

      • You are repeating the SOS that was said
        about Blacks during the Korean War, OK
        Bill, Korean Conflict, plus they were thought
        to be unreliable and would “Bug Out” at the
        earliest opportunity.

    • It’s 2013.

      Working alongside gay people and women isn’t “utopian” or “social engineering.”

      It’s long-established, mainstream reality. The military isn’t being used as a guinea pig for some experiment in an effort to change society; it’s being asked to catch up with the rest of the world.

      • Yah, speaking of catching up with the rest of the world, think of all those Greek and Persian and Turkish warriors from past Empires, and the “offense with no name” that characterize(s)(d) all those naval gundecks and dark corners of the holds and the officers’ quarters of Great Wooden and Steel Warships, and remember there’s a reason the Amazons were feared!

        And hey, gay, straight, female or other, join the military, go to foreign lands, meet interesting people, and kill them! While raping others in your Band of Siblings. It’s an opportunity you can’t have in civilian life, unless you work for, like, Xe/Blackwater, whose troops, like other “contractors,” get paid TEN TIMES (with great health care and retirement plans) what numbnut GIs get (plus food stamps) for the same work!

        I hear that being bisexual doubles your chances of getting a date — opening the closet doors sure increases the pool of recruits, doesn’t it?

        Let’s remember the real fundamentals, at the heart of all our modern entertainment and mythology: Sex and Death. Naval officers trading top-secret info to corporations for sex, and Tuesday morning DroneDeath lotteries in the Situation Room and how much fun! “Call of Duty!” is! With a lot of ribbons, drums, fooferaws and furbelows added, to “give it all meaning.” In the “national interest,” of course.

    • Uh, which “military ?”

      To the Prez, the military IS the Generals.

      President Obama could get the only current American POW, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, released by simply lifting his little finger.*
      He doesn’t do it.
      That’s how much he cares about the enlisted and lower ranking soldiers.

      * In September, 2009, the Haqqani Network offered to release Bowe, in exchange for:
      1. Release of 10 to 12 Taliban held at Gitmo;
      2. Release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui from federal prison in Fort Worth; and
      3. payment of $1,000,000.
      This is less effort for Prez Obama than lifting his little finger.

      In 2011, Bibi Natan-yahu released 1,200 Palestinian prisoners to get Gilad Shalit released.

      In 2013, the Haqqani guys stated that the offer is still valid.

      Note that Bowe is held in Miran Shah, North Waziristan, which Obama has hit with 200 – 400 drone bomb strikes.
      Either he knows where Bowe is, and is careful not to kill him, or not.

      • It has been a long standing policy of the United States not to bend to the demands of terrorists. There have been prisoner exchanges in time of conventional war, however this war is certainly not conventional. The Haqqani network is a ruthless mob of murderers given safe haven by a misguided Pakistani military in North Waziristan from where they invade a neighboring state, kill Americans and Afghanis alike, and plot the overthrow of the Afghan state. They are a by product of American foreign policy and cold war mentality enabled by our support during the Soviet occupation and then allowed to prosper in the reign of the Taliban. The Haqqanis seek profit from anarchy,war and mayhem. Their equivalent in American society is the gang and these gangbangers and their Pakistani supporters should be condemned internationally by the world not rewarded for their atrocities.

  4. An interesting discussion took place on NPR this a.m. concerning our military. One of this nation’s first female pilots was a guest and expressed my long held belief that our soldiers should not be referred to as “Warriors.”

    The warmongering like title is a concoction of the Frank Lutz like con men who would have young men think of themselves as fictional comic book characters whose fantasies are fueled by video games. Later these young men will be disillusioned with the number of sexual assaults and the lack of mission they encounter in the real world.

  5. In the “war argot” in Vietnam, “Numbah 10” meant “really bad.” “Numbah 1” meant “really good!” Prof. Cole, dare this aging veteran, once stupid enough to buy into the delusions that are driving so many others to support AGAINST ANY HONORABLE NOTION OF “NATIONAL INTEREST” POLICIES (that ridiculous word) suggest that you have your list upside down? All the other items would fade mostly out if this last bit came first.

    Delusions that “our troops” are kicking a__ and blowing sh_t up to “preserve Democracy” or even “preserve our way of life,” which is self-limiting and self-destroying (though ego-satisfying and so very “profitable” for a very few) by killing our planetary life systems. Delusions that a huge industry and its pendant “contractor” dongle, based on combustoconsumption and its long history of “enrich-the few-as-THE-national interest,” and the thuggery that Smedley Butler acknowledge he took such vivid part in, and the idiot notion that a national policy/military/industrial/sneaky-pete apparatus, is spreading what we so foolishly believe is “democracy,” that palest and most obscure of shibboleths, by means of what the war planners clearly understand is “national-building” by forcible regime change, on a global scale. Delusions that all that military “might” might somehow be able to “win” (undefined term) any 4th Generation conflict (can’t call ’em “wars” any more) or combined-forces operation in someplace like the Persian Gulf. Delusions that the spindizzy mechanism that has lifted “policy-making” off the ground-truth level to where it’s all just “How can we make a buck off this?” and “How can I stir the pot and advance my career on the crest of some latest Dogma initiative?” provides any king of pathway to survival, let alone even spurious “stability” that itself is the Enemy of the Apparatus. Delusions that “Battlespace Managers,” who have divvied up the whole globe into their little Commands, can leverage the developing horrors of ecological disaster into career and role and functional aggrandizement via suckering those of us who PAY for all this in so many ways to hand over the keys to the whole Global Interoperable Network-Centric Maserati Thingie, because all the other parasites who see where the money is flowing have hitched their inventive lexicons to that falling star. Delusions that as with “libertarianism,” all wisdom and goodness flows from the idiot belief that “every entity pursuing its own ‘interests'” is the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment.

    And the best “we” can do is to hold tight to the analytical tools and language of the Great Game that is the manifestation and reason why it appears the species and its body burden of parasites and neoplasms ain’t long for the world “we” are so Seriously and busily taking down.

    Please, do not “thank me for my service.” I sought to “serve” something that was pure imaginary hypocritical Milo Minderbinder bullsh_t. And new generations of young people and the tribal enclaves and shibboleths so carefully woven into the fabric of our relations, which did have some promise, are just keeping it going, decade and “war” after one another, kill people and cultures and the planet for the unregulated, apparently unregulable, conscience- and consequence-free “gain” of so very few…

    • “…the thuggery that Smedley Butler acknowledge he took such vivid part in…”

      Try searching the official Marine Corps website for “smedley” or “smedley butler” and you’ll get zero responses. A search of “medal of honor” will get over 12,000 results, but I doubt if the two-time winner of that award will be among them.

  6. 11.When sending soldiers to war equip them with proper life saving equipment such as body armor and mwrap for their vehicles.
    12. End the use of chemicals like agent orange and eliminate the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus that has caused such irreparable harm.
    13. Sign the convention banning the indiscriminant use of land mines which has maimed friend and foe alike.
    14.Follow the Constitution and require Congress to debate, deliberate, and cast a vote before sending soldiers to fight and die endlessly in multiple tours in foreign lands for undefined purposes and without an exit strategy.

    • JW, that’s all just giving a tuneup and a paint job and adding smiley-face stickers to a broke-down, brakeless bus we have been stupid enough to pay for a ride in. As it stands at the top of a hill at the bottom of which is an abrupt cliff. With drivers who get to jump off into a nice cushioned berth, right before it goes over the edge.

      But we do just love our idiotic wars, and all the wealth that they transfer, and how puffed up they make us feel…

      • I detest war but the mistakes of history are too often repeated. I am simply proposing that a full consideration of the consequences must be considered.

  7. On November 11, 1918 at dawn high-ranking officials agreed to an armistice to end the fighting at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. Despite that the French, British and American generals insisted on continuing the fighting until the last minute. That wasn’t barbarous enough for Generals Jack Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and (Colonel?)George Patton who wanted to continue the war and invade Germany and who later returned to a heroes welcome.

    • Not one square inch of Germany experienced fighting in World War I. Germany surrendered unconditionally in World War II. The first had the effect of the German public, political and military classes believing they had been “stabbed in the back,” and led to rearmament and World War II. The second had the effect of completely remaking Germany into a peaceful, productive player in Europe and the world.

      The lesson here is that it may well have been better for Germany to have been totally defeated in World War I, and that the Americans, British, and French may have been correct in wanting to continue into Germany.

      • “The lesson here is that it may well have been better for Germany to have been totally defeated in World War I, and that the Americans, British, and French may have been correct in wanting to continue into Germany.”

        It was the French who insisted on draconian punishment for the Germans at Versailles. Lloyd George was more inclined to be magnanimous. Clemenceau won the debate and set up the bitterness in Germany that led to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. What the Allies didn’t do on the various fields in France and Belgium, they did in the halls of Versailles. A humiliating defeat for Germany.

        To quote the moral of Churchill’s history of the Second World War: In War: Resolution; In Defeat: Defiance; In Victory: Magnanimity; In Peace: Goodwill.

        Magnanimity doesn’t appear to be a popular quality in American pathology compared with the upward pointing index finger and the rallying cry of, “We’re Number One.”

        Estimates have the number of people killed during WWI as high as 20 million. How many more lives would have been squandered if the “warriors” had their way and insisted on conquering the German land?

        E. D. Morel’s book, “Ten Years of Secret Diplomacy” makes a case that French and British diplomats had a lot to do with contributing to the outbreak of hostilities. I believe Adam Hochschild’s latest book, “To End All Wars” might have been influenced by Morel’s story, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it.

      • Ahem . . . the Battle of Tannenberg and the Battle of the Masurian Lakes. Russian defeats to be sure, but still hardly your “not one square inch”.

      • There are probably people in France and England and Greece and Spain and Portugal and those little islands in the Med and elsewhere who are suffering a FISCAL blitzkrieg, a monetary imperialism, who might disagree with the blithe assertion that Germany has been completely remade into a peaceful, productive player in Europe and the world.” Selling U-boats to the Israelis? Joining in “UN” conflicts? And do I remember something about providing technology and assistance to folks like Hussein and Assad and Saddam? One little piece of the Game: link to

        But then the claimed characteristic is that the personified Serious monolith analyzed as “Germany” is a “player.” Would have to agree with that, at least…

      • I believe that a vast majority of historians would disagree and attribute the harsh treatment and humiliating conditions imposed on Germany after World War I as a major factor contributing to the rise of Hitler and World War II.

      • Dear Bill,
        Excellent “Second Guessing”
        ninety-five years after the
        Add another lash to Duke’s
        dead horse.
        J. L. Hansen

    • I don’t know the fax,
      but my sense is that most of those involuntary separations are for smoking a little grass to forget atrocities they saw or committed.

      My sense, such decisions are made by officers who generally hold soldiers in contempt.

      • After my Vietnam “tour,” I had more than 6 months left on my enlistment, so I had to serve it out at Ft. Hood, Aug. ’68 to June ’69, as a personnel clerk in the HQ company of the 2nd Armored Division, old “Hell On Wheels.” (The “service” back then would “release” those of us with less than 6 months because we were such a set of “mutinous pains in the a__” to their “orderly rooms.”

        Nine months of “outprocessing” GIs who were walking-wounded, physically and mentally. And a lot of them “had a problem with authority,” after experiencing the idiocy and futility and horror, with undischargable loads of fear and sometimes guilt and really scary reflexes and behaviors. Lots of bad conduct and general discharges, often after courts-martial. There was essentially no “treatment” that I can recall, and of course no parades and nurses in starched uniforms to respond to the urge to, ah, kiss, and end up on the cover of “LIFE.”×36?class=1001&gclid=CLGW0PDQ4LoCFUhk7AodIAMAuQ

        It wasn’t just officers who hold soldiers in contempt — the NCO upper ranks were just as bad. Too bad most of us are happy to live with the myths and John Wayne and Ronald Reagan images, whatever it actually costs (Vietnam, all by itself, at least $4 trillion and counting, a lot more if one counts the externalities.) All these “policy-in-the-air, So-Serious, sonorous portentous grand-geopolitical-jerky-eatery tits-for-tats are just so much toxic smoke and fun-house mirrors. For the benefit, only, of the real “winners,” the ones at the ends of the money trails…

  8. Kristallnacht is significant in that it was the one event that most discredited Nazism as a poitical movement in the international community prior to WWII.

    The U.S. ambassador to Germany reported that even a majority of the German public reacted with revulsion to the violence – which was surprising to him in an authoritarian state.

    Many non-Jewish Germans stared out of their windows crying as the violence occurred.

    • Gee, I wonder what expressions will be on OUR exceptional faces as we look out the windows on our own towns and cities, down the road…

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