Saluting with misty eyes
How then, do we support our soldiers?
We allow them to win (which they are closer than they are being given credit for) and make sure that the dead, wounded, and "untouched" are not dishonored for their scarifices, as happened in your war.
Politicians and private citizens recognize that we owe our soldiers a tremendous debt of gratitude.
The majority of people do, in fact, realize the debt of gratitude that the military- both full and part time- is owed. In too many airports around the nation, people are lining up at the gates to applaude those returning from service, and in too many towns, the units, and individuals service members are being highlighted in patriotic holiday parades. Unfortunately, it is the majority of the mass media that refuses to believe this fact... and that is where most people get their news: from the newspapers and television reports that do not mention the fact that October was the lowest number of American deaths in Iraq in 3 years, or that we went an entire week in October without a single American casualty, or that there was an American Navy Seal awarded the MOH posthumasly. The American people get it. It is those in a position to shape American thoughts and opinions that, all too often, do not.
One way to express this gratitude is to stop sending them off to die because we need cheap oil.
And yet we pay the highest amount at the pumps than at any time in history. Where, oh Lord, where is this "cheap oil" people keep promising me I am getting from this war?
We can support our soldiers, whatever the situation, by voting to raise pay to at least the federal poverty levels. (The subsidized food and housing "benefits" don't count. "Service benefits" are not a form of welfare.)
This year, a Marine at the same pay grade and time in service I was when I EAS'd will make $24753 this year, yet they don't pay for medical/dental insurance (I will pay $2400 this year with a $1500 deductable and an 80/20 co-pay), they have no deductable, They get $250,000 in life insurance for about $75/year (I pay $3000 for the same amount... to include myself, my wife, and my kids), they don't have to pay rent (the rent for a 1 bedroom apartment around here is around $6000/year), there are no utility bills (as opposed to my electric,when last I had an apartment 3 years ago were about $400/year, garbage is $280/year, and the heat was around $500/year) and I paid about (if I remember right) $.45 less per gallon for the gas to go into my motorcycle.
Now, doing the math on that means that the single Marine Corporal with 6 years in makes- in pay and benefits- $38758. I am busting my stones, trying to raise a girfriend and 5 kids (plus mine on the weekends) on around $35,000/year... and I have the other bills to take care of that he doesn't. Military benefits are not welfare... they are reward for putting his life, and his family's happiness, on the line.
We can support our soldiers by adequately funding the Vetran's Administration hospital system.
I would prefer to see that the VA acknowledges all of its vets. My father, the recipient of the Navy Cross, the Navy Marine Corps Medal, and a recommendation for the Silver Star, 4 Purple Hearts, and a 24 year retiree (spending an extra year to allow me to graduate from the high school on the Marine base we were stationed at) was listed by the VA as being a 3 year Marine with no combat time, and was- for that reason- denied free medical treatment for an Agent Orange-induced brain tumor.
We can support our soldiers by vastly expanding pro-active alcohol abuse programs and family preservation programs.
Today's military (as has the military for the past 25 years, that I know of) has a very active D&A program. This includes identifying potential service members that might need help and putting them through classes to help them recognize the process that they are going through. There is also a program in place wherein the service member who feels him/herself needing help with a D&A challenge can go to a specific member of the unit (called the drug exemption officer of NCO) and ask to be put through the system. This specific person (and only this person) can maneuver the service member through the D&A system without any official action being taken by command and with absolutely no information being put into the service memeber's record book. My reference for this is the fact that I was sent to D&A classes when it was discovered that I had a six-pack in my barracks room, and I eventually became the drug exemption NCO for my unit. My brother, a young Marine on float, was also "given permission" to attend the D&A classes when it was discovered that he was *gasp* getting drunk on shore leave.
We can increase the "college tuition" benefit to the point where it might actually enable someone to go to college.
My father actually got his history degree using his GI benefits.
We can ask our leaders to mandate a "decompression" program for soldiers returning from combat and seperating from the service... I don't know what the situation is today
Today, there are several programs in place to ensure the mental health of all military types. When I was doing my service in the Marines, we had a mass casualty that took its toll on all of the emergency workers, and left a few of us less than 100% emotionally. Everyone at the scene was given a group therapy session (broken into groups) and a few were given individual sessions to ensure that they didn't go off and shoot the McDonalds up or whatever. Yes, a few do slip through the cracks; however, that is the way it is in civilian life also.
What would you attempt to do...if you knew you could not fail?. www.myspace.com/mindlesspoet
[This message has been edited by Ringo (11-02-2007 06:34 PM).]