On occasion, well-intentioned folks thank me for my service. I served in the U.S. Marine Corps from February 1965 through December 1968, so most of these folks thanking me are younger. I appreciate their good intentions, but would like them to know how veterans are really doing. About 4.9 million veterans have service-connected disabilities. These range from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to missing limbs, Agent Orange diseases, hearing loss, back pain and spinal injuries, paralysis and traumatic brain injury. The list continues.
Twenty veterans commit suicide everyday. This is likely a low estimate, according to the Veterans Administration.
Homelessness is experienced by many veterans, and the fastest-growing number of homeless veterans are now female. About 1.5 million veterans live below the official U.S. poverty line. Unemployment is also a common experience for veterans, too. So while recruiters often lead you to believe this is a path for upward mobility, it is also a path for downward mobility and death.
Sadly, like myself, you are likely to find out the government has lied to you about the causes of and the reasons for your generation’s war. Lying seems to be about the only thing our government is successful at these days.
If you want to thank me for my service, do some research before you rush to judgment and join the military to defend our nation. If you truly want to thank me for my service, work for peace. Begin now. War isn’t peace, and the life you save will likely be your own.
published as a “Letter To The Editor” in the Daily Gazette, June 14, 2018