Monday, June 29, 2015


Shame on America,
We've let the vets down


THE OTHER DAY I SAW AN APPEAL by the Wounded Warriors Project on tv.

I was ashamed.

Why should the victims of our wars - the wars we fight for others - have to beg for aid? Why doesn't our government - regardless of party In power - take care of the men and women who were wounded - physically and mentally - in combat to protect, in too many cases, people who later turn against the people making sacrifices for them?

Unfortunately, this scandal is not new in the United States.

I DON'T KNOW HOW other countries treat returning soldiers and frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a tinker's dam(n)*.

I know the wounded warriors have rights to Veterans Administration service. Based on recent exposes we know that while they have RIGHTS to the services we know they often lack ACCESS to the services.

Or maybe the Wounded Warriors Project is a scam.

But I don't think so.

When I was in the Air Force I worked at a military hospital (1360 USAF, Orlando AFB FL c 1960s). Times were different them. The active and retired military had access to on-base medical care when a VA facility was distant; in Orlando's case, the nearest VA hospital was in St, Petersburg (by all accounts a good facility). Officers, active and retired, paid all of a dollar and a dime ($1.10) per day for in-patient care; enlisted paid nothing; dependents cost the military sponsor $1.75.

That's all changed, as have many other things since I wore a Shade 54 (i.e., Air Force Blue) "Ike" jacket. Yes, it gets chilly in Orlando.

Earlier I wrote that the vets' plight is nothing new. Getting - trying to be polite and "politically correct" here - ignored by our government is nothing new.

Back when we were still fighting England and its Hessian mercenaries**, Geo. Washington had to appeal to his troops to "soldier on" without pay promised by the Continental Congress. (See George Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy, 1783)

After World War I - apparently there was little discontent in the ranks from Independence to World War I, or if there was, it was quietly suppressed - veterans were promised a bonus. The agre)ement, made in a time of plenty, was that the bonus would be paid in 1945 (when America already was involved in World War 2). Unfortunately, the Depression turned good times into bad and the vets needed their bonus money "now." The government stood by its agreement to pay in 1945.

The vets took up arms - and canes and crutches - and marched; The Bonus Army Invades Washington, D.C., 1932

The vets were greeted in D.C. by cavalry, tanks, and teargas.

Today, in addition to the Wounded Warriors Project, we see a Washington Times headline that reads: Pentagon puts budget concerns ahead of Fort McClellan troops’ welfare - Top Obama appointee says cost to notify soldiers of possible exposure to toxins too high

The poet Rudyard Kipling cobbled a couple of ditties appropriate for both his time (1865-1936) and - it seems - ours. While his work applies primarily to the English, it can equally apply to American military as well.

A Time For Prayer

    "In times of war and not before,
    God and the soldier we adore.
    But in times of peace and all things righted,
    God is forgotten and the soldier slighted."


    I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
    The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
    The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
    O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
    But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
    But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
    But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
    The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
    O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

    Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
    An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
    Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
    But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
    While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
    But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
    There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
    O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

    You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
    We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!


*: TINKER'S DAM(N)Something that is insignificant or worthless

** HESSIAN MERCENARIES He (King George III) is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.(U.S. Declaration of Independence)

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