There were veterans of nearly every major conflict over the last 50 years, including an adorable old fella who stormed the beaches at Normandy, in attendance. Two Vietnam veterans and a 59-year-old veteran of operation Iraqi Freedom gave speeches. All of them were excellent speakers, and most of them refrained from political commentary.
I have said many times before that I support the people who are in uniform, even while being opposed to where they are stationed and their missions. I know full well that all of the current military personnel have volunteered to be where they are. Some of them may have been forced by circumstances, lack of opportunities, to join the military, however many of them voluntarily stay in the military long after their original enlistment is up. They are extraordinarily proud of the work that they do. Rightfully so, because what they’re doing is damn difficult.
I don’t think that we should be in Iraq. Period. It is my belief that if there were no oil in Iraq, we would not be there. It is also my belief that we are creating a bigger mess the longer that we’re there, and it is not belief but simple fact that we are creating an entire generation of people who despise the United States.
But the speeches today made me see things from another point of view. I was astonished to learn that more than half of the country’s homeless people are veterans. That statistic is disgusting. Deeply. Whether or not you agree with any conflict (and I disagree with most of them) the country has a responsibility to care for those who have put their lives on the line to protect it.
I was also astonished to learn that funding for the veterans administration is not an automatic thing. Congress must allocate funds to pay for health care for veterans, physical or mental, annually. We all know how well Congress does its work.
The gentleman who just returned from Iraq talked about the media’s coverage of the conflict. According to him, the media is 110% on when it comes to the coverage in Iraq, however they are only reporting 10 to 15% of the story. Apparently, there are plenty of good things happening there that no one talks about. I find that difficult to believe. Every day, there are reports of more very young soldiers dying. The government does not keep statistics on the deaths of Iraqi civilians who die needlessly either in the crossfire or from mistakes made on bombing runs. Yes, the insurgents kill innocent civilians too, but the insurgent’s cause is not my concern. I think that the military should be held to a higher standard of accountability, especially when the claims of being the most technologically advanced military force in the world are constant.
The fact is that we can’t leave Iraq now. But as I whispered to a friend during these speeches when someone asked when we’ll be out of there…I think everyone will come home when my friend’s kids are grandparents. What a quagmire. It is a weirdling line that I’m walking here…admire the selfless service of all of the military branches, despise the conflicts, opposed to the policy.
I know my own mind, anyway.
On a completely unrelated note, the voice recognition software IS learning. I dictated this up until a few paragraphs ago, and the errors were very few. Teh technology is teh cool.