American Flag – pic by Roger Sayles via Flickr
A Veterans Lament!
I know, the title is a little harsh.
But, sadly it a truth, and it is one that many people have a hard time accepting.
I served my country during the Vietnam War Era, and I promise, I will not go into how the media besmirched all of us veterans to the point that we were pariahs in our own homeland when we came home. That is another shameful piece of our history.
No, I just want to state a few things for you, the reader, to consider and at least tacitly accept as the truth.
If you look candidly at our country’s history, when this great country of ours needs to be defended, there have always been those that; selflessly put away their plowshares, stood up and took arms against our foes. It wasn’t done for glory, but as an expression of love for their country.
Many end up in harms way and are wounded, or even worse, killed while defending our country and its people. But these heros did not serve alone. In reality, for every serviceman or woman that pays such a price, there are five more that are never harmed.
You see, the soldier that stands on a line, under fire, risking his or her life, operates efficiently because of two things; the others at his shoulder, and the many support servicemen that make them successful at their jobs.
The list of these support personnel is varied and long and each and every one of their jobs are critical to the success of ANY military mission.
I happen to be one of those support servicemen. I gave my country several years of my life. I was never wounded, nor did I ever go into a war zone with its inherent perils you risk by just being there, but I did serve.
Now, I happened to have been on an Aircraft Carrier, doing my job, day in and day out, following the orders of my leaders. In reality, I was just a small part of what was needed to make my ship an awesome machine of destruction, feared by our enemies around the world. But, I was an integral part.
Eventually, when my term of service ended, I went back to the “real world” and re-started my life.
Of course, the first thing that I saw was the fact that I had to play catch-up with all of the ones who stayed home, for whatever reason.
In fact, I soon realized that my civilian peers now had things like; seniority in their jobs, had received generous raises and promotions while I was gone, and even been trained in skills I had to access to.
I, on the other hand, had to start at the bottom of the competitive corporate ladder to grow my own long delayed career.
But, that’s OK, I did my best in the corporate world, and eventually I retired. I had a plan to live comfortably and I though I would be OK.
What I didn’t realize, that now, years later, I would be walking around, with shrinking medical coverage for my ailments, mostly because I am also a Baby Boomer, whom Congress has decided doesn’t deserve the protections I actually paid for.
Being a veteran, I have my VA ID card, that all Vets carry, to show that I served my country, honorably, and I have rights to certain support systems, specifically certain medical benefits.
One other perk that we veterans enjoy is the fact that certain companies recognize the sacrifices of veterans and will give veterans a discount on their goods if you show your ID. It isn’t much, usually 10% off, but it is often worth more to myself and other veterans as a form of recognition for our service, than the monetary savings.
Now, to my example of the vanishing Love for veterans.
There are two major home supply chains in the US and they are very competitive. I will call them; L and HD.
A few years ago, L began, without any fanfare, giving veterans a 10% discount on their goods, if you showed them your VA ID at checkout. At some point. HD, in order to be competitive, began doing the same.
But, last week, I was embarrassed. I went to a local HD store, and they refused to give me the usual veterans discount that I mentioned above. I asked why and they said that my card did not have “Service Related” on the front.
So, I paid the regular price and left, but I will probably not be frequenting the big HD any time soon. You see, that phrase “Service Related” indicates that the veteran has a “Service Related Injury” of some kind.
My first reaction was that I must apologize to my country for not being injured while I served.
But, no, this is just another example of our public’s attitude about veterans. When you need us, you love us, and promise to take care of us.
While, in reality, your memories are short and your purse strings are more important to you than your word. And an old veteran, during peace time, injured or not, is just a costly nuisance, to be ignored and often, abused.
So, go ahead, HD, along with all of your other corporate and government peers, keep cutting those budgets, just like you have done with Social Security and Medicare that we actually paid into a self-sustaining fund. (These same funds that were squandered by our leaders).
You know you are going to do it. Your taxes are already too high. Something has to go! Why not us, the Seniors and the Veterans. Go ahead and strip the support systems that you were so proud of when you needed us.
And, when you walk down a street and see one of us, cup in hand, throw a quarter in the cup. It will make you feel a lot better about yourself. I’m Sure.
by Don Bobbitt, May 2013
Copyright DON BOBBITT, 2013, All Rights Reserved