BY SEN. SAM SLOM – This weekend we celebrate Veteran’s Day. It is a special day.
I am not a vet—I wish I were—but my Father was, and is buried in Punchbowl. I will be there tomorrow, as I am every year, to honor my Father and all veterans. Memorial Day too. Every year there are fewer of the vets from previous wars and the organizations that remember them.
This year we witnessed cancellation of parades and other veteran related activity because of APEC and foreign dignitaries. I believe that is wrong. We need to get and keep our priorities straight. Our veterans should be priority number one.
Few people who have not been in the military, or who are families of those who serve, can truly appreciate the sacrifice given by veterans. The sacrifices are mental, financial and physical. Many speeches are made in behalf of vets, but many times the words ring hollow. Action speaks louder than words.
The returning vets from Viet Nam were cursed, spat upon and worse.
Fortunately, we have come a long way since then but we still see our vets ignored or worse in many areas. It is shameful how many vets suffer untreated mental and physical ailments, account for a major share of the homeless and are unemployed.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed a jobs bill 95-0 to provide tax and employment benefits for vets. That in itself was unusual and positive.
But what we owe our men and women who have served and serve now, goes far beyond money and benefits. We need to be more understanding and appreciative. We need to keep our promises to the veterans.
Through Viet Nam we had a compulsory draft. Now we have a volunteer military that is tested every day and given often confusing objectives. Many times their actions in battle are questioned. We have a flimsy and confusing policy of dealing with terrorists and those in our military with questionable loyalties. ( A billion dollar lawsuit was filed against the US Army today because of the Jihadist officer who murdered so many army personnel.)
Some call for a return to a draft. To force people into the military. A well recognized “hawk,” former US Senator Barry Goldwater, was opposed to a draft and said, “You don’t have to force good men to fight for their country.”
That presumes that our civilian policies are clear, coherent and consistent. Those of us not in the military, and especially those in elected office, must do more than make speeches. We must make sure we call upon men and women for sacrifice only when absolutely necessary and only when are objectives are understood and clear.
Let’s appreciate, respect and honor our veterans today, and every day. They’ve earned it. God Bless them.