November 20, 2007 – We — that’s you and me — just had a Veterans Day. You might have missed it? Did you notice that we had fewer parades and TV and radio shows talked a little less about the holiday. Just last year, we were all over our men and women in uniform and retired — we all said no matter what we think of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, we were going to honor thos who served … remember that?
Well, we have lost our way, we have failed them. We have let them all down. You cannot keep asking, hell demanding, that your soldiers go back to combat three, four and five times in five years — leave their families, lose their limbs, their lives, their souls and then not even have the decency to take care of them when they get hurt. We ought to be ashamed and embarrassed.
This year we were shown by the national media how poorly our wounded soldiers were being treated once they had their limbs replaced. We saw the rats literally crawling at our nation’s primary veterans hospital, less than 10 miles from the White House. While we celebrated this year’s Veterans Day, the broken promises were still being made to our returning veterans. Our men and women still have to wait months for appointments, years for payments, wade through miles and miles of useless paperwork to get the treatment that they have earned. Hell, this nation owes them.
Here is the deal we have made: You soldier, go and get blown up, leave your family, suffer numbing emotional damage, have your body blown apart, and we, the United States of America, will take care of you for the rest of your life. The soldier always does his part and this nation always lets them down.
We are now learning that the suicide rates of returning combat vets are four times higher than we thought. We also were treated to this fact that there are over 160,000 homeless veterans in this country. I do a lot of volunteer work at a homeless shelter and have worked to establish a veterans’ homeless shelters in Boston. I can say with a sadness that cuts very deep that we are now seeing returning veterans from this current war living on the streets of Boston and L.A. That ought to be enough to unseat a government.
How is this possible? We gave $10 billion to Pakistan since 9/1, we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars — that’s hundreds of billions in Iraq — you would think a few billion could be set aside for the men and women making it all possible. A few billion to ensure that this nation does what it promised and takes care of those who have taken care of us.
For my disconnected, disinterested uncaring friends, it’s not about the damn money. We have the damn money, it’s us, we suck, we do not care. We do photo ops with soldiers standing behind us, we walk in parades and shake hands on the appropriate holidays. Some of us wear flags in our lapels, but we are all collectively allowing out government to perpetuate this crime, the crime of not taking care of soldiers.
We need a revolution of care and competence, we need a political action committee, we need something powerful outside the government to make this government keep its sacred promise to our soldiers. I am telling you — we have lost our way. I am hoping it’s not too late. This war with terrorists will not stop with Iraq and Afghanistan, so we all need to understand that we will need these great soldiers, Marines and special operation types for as long as we want to be a free nation.
Maybe that is enough to wake up?
Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.