Wed Dec 5, 2012, 11:07 AM
WilliamPitt (57,875 posts)
Until They All Come Home
There has been an ongoing debate here on DU about the hero-worship of the military in America, and to what degree that adulation fosters our hyper-militarized permanent-war national mindset and existence. Without doubt, this is a valid and vital debate...but for the moment, I'm going to add a different dimension to it: what it means to be a veteran in America today, the brutal (often lethal) hardships involved, and what that says about our national character. The numbers alone are staggering. To do so, I interviewed Paul Sullivan, a man who has dedicated his life to helping veterans in every way he can, "until," as he says, "they all come home." - WRP
A soldier makes his way home through the Indianapolis
International Airport from a yearlong deployment to
Afghanistan, Sunday, June 10, 2012.
(Photo: Sgt. John Crosby / The National Guard / flickr)
Until They All Come Home
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout.org | Op-Ed
Wednesday 05 December 2012
American history textbooks, along with American "news" media outlets, tend to focus on large martial events - World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm - as specific, defined moments in time. That they are is beyond question; that the spaces between them have been times of peace is, however, laughable. The United States has been in a state of permanent, global war since Pearl Harbor. Involved in conflicts large and small, known and unknown, a moment has not passed in the last 71 years that has not involved American military personnel killing and dying somewhere in the world.
That is fact.
This reality has accelerated to an extreme and lethal level over the last twelve years; we have been at war in Afghanistan since 2002, and at war in Iraq since 2003 (if you think we're not still at war in Iraq, I can introduce you to some military families who are still posting love-you-be-safe letters to that particular delivery code), and the operational tempo that has defined the last 4,000 days has taken a savage toll on the men and women tasked to carry the burden placed upon them by those who have been allegedly leading this country.
This is not a story about America's insanely bloated "defense" budget. It is not a story about the bent priorities this nation has come to accept; to wit: more than half of every dollar collected in taxes goes to warfare and spying, a multi-trillion dollar industry, while we reel through national "debates" about cutting health care benefits for old people and closing schools because "we can't afford it."
This is a story about the people who have most recently endured what it means to serve in America's military, and what they are dealing with right now as a consequence of that service.
For men like Paul Sullivan - former Cavalry Scout for the Army's 1st Armored Division and veteran of the 1991 Gulf War - our ongoing wars and the plight of the veterans who have fought them is an abiding passion, and the focus of a singular mission.
Between 1995 and 2000, Mr. Sullivan worked for the National Gulf War Resource Center in Washington, DC, where he led the national effort to pass the "Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998," a law significantly expanding health care, disability benefits, and scientific research for 250,000 ill Gulf War Veterans. From 2000 to 2006, Mr. Sullivan worked at the VA, where he produced reports about the health care use and disability benefit activity of Gulf War, Afghanistan War, and Iraq War veterans. From 2007 until 2012, Mr. Sullivan served as the Executive Director at Veterans for Common Sense. He regularly testifies before Congress and frequently appears in the media speaking about veterans' health care and disability benefits, especially Gulf War illness and post traumatic stress disorder. He works today for the law firm of Bergmann & Moore, whose website carries a bold banner that reads, "Aggressively Representing America's Veterans."
I recently interviewed Mr. Sullivan about the current state of affairs for veterans in America...
The rest: http://truth-out.org/news/item/13149-until-they-all-come-home
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Until They All Come Home (Original post)
Response to WilliamPitt (Original post)
Wed Dec 5, 2012, 10:35 PM
Zorra (24,830 posts)
7. Nice work on this very important subject, thanks.
Involved in conflicts large and small, known and unknown, a moment has not passed in the last 71 years that has not involved American military personnel killing and dying somewhere in the world.
That is fact.