Monday, November 11, 2013

Change of plans! (No curses today!)

I was planning on running a piece on curses - how American culture uses curse words to support misogyny and rape culture - but I changed my mind.

Today is Veteran's Day.  The day we supposedly set aside to tell Vets that we are appreciative of their service to the country.

I remember the Vietnam War.  I entered the Army at the end of that war, and never had a chance to serve in a combat theater.  Too late for Vietnam and too early for the Gulf Wars.  So, as you read this post, remember that even though I AM a Veteran, I am not a COMBAT Vet.  Never fired a shot in anger nor had one fired at me.

It is gratifying to see so many normal folks now doing the "thanks, vets" thing, and the Vietnam vets finally getting the recognition they deserve.  You know, the ones who were really there and really got shot at, compared to the guys like me that sat around the barracks in places like Europe and watched some of our fellow "soldiers" getting high and doing drugs.

I get thanked occasionally, when someone discovers I am a vet, and I really don't want to throw cold water on their parade by telling them I don't deserve it, because I don't want to discourage them from saying it to the guys that really do deserve that thanks.  But, really, I don't.

I know.  Some folks would say that military service is inherently dangerous, because of the equipment we use, some of which is frankly, not safe to operate.  While I was in Germany, an M113 armored personnel carrier like I drove was involved in an accident.  The driver was going too fast, and untrained as he apparently was, pulled the left track brake too hard at too high a speed.  His intention was to make a sharp left turn by halting the left track, so the vehicle would spin around on its left side center of gravity.

But when we were trained at Fort Knox (Those of us with the actual specialty for driving those vehicles and were trained to do it), they taught us that to use that brake (instead of the normal steering brake), you had to be going UNDER 15 miles per hour, if I remember correctly.  I think this guy was going around thirty or so, so he flipped the vehicle onto its top.

They scraped the track commander (who sits with his top half out of the center hatch) off the tarmac with a spatula.  That vehicle weighs 11 tons.

So, yes, I am aware of the dangers of serving and using military equipment.  That doesn't, in my mind, put me in the same class with guys who were getting shot at.  So, it makes me nervous to have someone thank me as if I did.

Another reason I am not happy about the "Thanks Vets!" thing is that as far as the government is concerned, it is not sincere.

I mean, come on, Congress just allowed an automatic cut of $5 billion to the SNAP program (depended on by many vets) to occur, without lifting a finger to do anything about it!  (When I say "Congress" here, read that as "Republicans in the House")  Now we hear they are talking about an effort to cut more!

There is a laundry list of bills "Congress" has failed to pass that would have made life so much better for vets.  A long one.

So, until this country gets off its ass and votes these ungrateful bastards assholes out of office, please don't tell me thanks for serving - your thanks should come in the form of a vote to correct the terrible way we treat our vets.

Every vet should be guaranteed a job when discharged.  Job training should be available if he/she needs it.  Those wounded should be guaranteed medical care for life.  Those maimed should not only get free medical care for life, but should be allowed to get that medical care at the best civilian facilities available - at government expense - for life.

We asked them to serve, and they volunteered.  We should treat them like we truly appreciate it.

THAT is better than a thousand years worth of Veteran's Days.

1 comment:

Oldfart said...

Like you, I served but never got to the war. And, like you, it irritates me to be thanked for my service because I never went to combat. And, when push comes to shove, I'm glad I never got to combat because I don't know what it would have done to me or I would have done to them. However, other men who have been to war have convinced me that I am a veteran anyway because I took the chance. That still doesn't satisfy me but it helps me accept the free pancakes I had for breakfast this morning and the VA hospital care I get (not free but covered by my health insurance.)