Nel's New Day

November 11, 2013

Help Veterans, Cut Defense

Most people know today is Veterans Day because the post office doesn’t deliver mail, and the television is inundated with war movies. There are also a few ceremonies and newspaper articles about old men who survived World War II. Most people have forgotten that the day was originally called Armistice Day with the intent to celebrate peace—not war. It commemorated the ceasefire of World War I at 11:00 am on 11/11/18.

Since the draft ended over four decades ago, people in the United States have become more and more detached from the people who fight the frivolous wars declared largely on the need for oil. Without the draft, most decision-makers have no military experience, and the diplomatic process is losing to declaration of war on a whim. The military is also becoming more and more divided by social classes: those who can afford to attend college and can get jobs largely avoid enlisting. When the U.S. had a draft, almost all young men face the possibility of military involvement, possibly during a conflict.

With people’s detachment from veterans has come the country’s ignoring the needs of veterans:

 Housing: 13 percent of the homeless population in this country is composed of veterans, and more than half of them have a disability. Despite some veteran housing programs, more than 60,000 veterans become homeless each year, and another 120,000 are in danger of losing their housing. Veterans aren’t even exempt from home foreclosures. 

Jobs: The unemployment rate for veterans since 9/11 is 10 percent, almost 50 percent higher than the 7.2 percent rate for everyone else. Much of this unemployment is long-term: 34 percent have been unemployed for a year, and 17 percent have not had a job for more than 2 years.

Reliable Health Care: Nearly 250,000 veterans wait for longer than a year to even have claims processed, and the situation got much worse after the Department of Veterans Affairs had to shut down for over two weeks because of the GOP blackmail in October. Soldiers with mental health issues are also ignored, and PTSD is on the rise.

Suicide Prevention: The suicide rate for veterans is increasing at twice the rate as the rate for the general population, and almost 20 percent of suicides nationwide is among veterans although they comprise only 10 percent of the population.

Drug Counseling: Veterans are at greater risk after stresses in the military and subsequent return to civilian life. According to one study, 39 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan had “probably alcohol abuse.” One in eight troops are referred to counseling for alcohol problems when they leave the military. At the same time, the military ignores excessive drug and alcohol use during active duty.

Incarceration: Almost ten percent of prison inmates are veterans. That’s one million of the ten million people incarcerated in the United States.

Food Stamps: 900,000 veterans rely on food stamps to feed their families. These are the people who will be taken off if the House of Representatives gets its way to move this money over to wealthy farmers. Last week, benefits were cut by an average of almost 8 percent to $133 per person per month. These are the people who Repubilcans describe as “lazy moochers” who need to learn independence.

Social Security: The government plan to establish a “chained CIP” would decrease the disability benefits for almost 4 million veterans as well as pension payments to another 500,000 low-income veterans and surviving families . Currently the Consumer Price Index measures changes in retail prices; chained CPI would use changes in consumer behavior by using the quantity of goods purchased as well as the retail prices. Some people think that those who spend less, for example going without meat, should receive less benefits because they don’t spend as much as when they had more money. The chained CPI method would decrease a raise of 1.7 percent in disability and pension payments by over 17 percent.

In 1944, Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, nicknamed the G.I. Bill. It gave benefits to the 16 million World War II veterans including low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start businesses, tuition and living expenses for education, and one year of unemployment compensation. Every veteran on active duty during the war years for at least 90 days and not dishonorably discharged got these benefits. By 1956, about 2.2 million veterans benefited from the G.I. Bill to go to college, and another 6.6 million participated in training programs. Even more Vietnam veterans used education benefits.

As time went on, the G.I. Bill got watered down. For example, Korean War veterans didn’t get unemployment compensation. After 1985, members of the military had to contribute $100 monthly for their first year in order to have education benefits. If they didn’t use any benefits, they still didn’t get the money back. Now, veterans can get health care—although they may sometimes have to wait a few years for it—and burial benefits. Gone, however, are the days when they got other help.

Ten percent of veterans are in prison, ten percent are unemployed, 13 percent are homeless, and almost one million need food stamps. These veterans don’t have anything to celebrate today.

The GOP says that there’s not enough money to help them. If corporations that provide oil and useless defense equipment didn’t get welfare, there might be enough money to help veterans. And if the government controlled its defense funding, veterans could have the services that they need, and the deficit could be cut. For example, the following could be left out of the budget with no problem for the country’s defense.

Chronically-failing anti-missile rockets keep getting more funding. In exchange for millions of dollars in campaign funds, GOP politicians consistently give welfare funds to contractors such as Lockheed, Martin, Boeing, TRW, and Raytheon. Independent analysts like MIT Professor of Science, Technology and International Security Theodore Postol maintain that “ballistic missile defense” (BMD) can’t work, that interceptor missiles can never distinguish real incoming weapons from swarms of decoys, and should be cancelled. In March 2000, Postol wrote President Clinton, charging that the program’s officers were “most likely attempting to illegally use the security and classification system to hide waste, fraud and abuse” through faked test results. The GOP has paid $200 billion during the past three decades for the faked tests.

The GOP provides welfare to corporations for weapons programs that the Pentagon doesn’t want. Military leaders assert that the new Joint-Strike fighter jet bomber (or F-35) and additional upgrades to the M1 Abrams tank are unnecessary because the 6,000 completed M1 upgrades are enough.  Dumping the Abrams rehab program would save $3.5 billion. Pentagon chiefs have proposed savings of at least $487 billion over a decade including the following cancellations:

  • The Global Hawk drone, whose purpose is served by the U2: savings, $2.5 billion by 2017;
  • The C-27J Spartan transport aircraft: savings, $400 million by 2017;
  • 5,000 jobs in the Air National Guard: savings, $300 million a year;
  • Plans for an East Coast missile defense battery that Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called unnecessary: savings, $3.6 billion by 2017.

The U.S. approved $645.7 billion in defense funding for 2012, the most recent year with available complete data. That’s 41 percent of total global military spending.

US military spending global

The U.S. budgets six times more than China, eleven times more than Russia, 27 times more than Iran, and 33 times more than Israel.

Military spending five countries

Military spending in this country is double that of all Asian countries. The U.S. is in the top highest spending countries as a percentage of GDP.

Veterans deserve to be saved from homelessness, hunger, prison, mental and physical illness, and joblessness. Changing the United States’ priorities from declaring war to helping veterans could accomplish this task.

Advertisements

1 Comment »

  1. […] 900,000 veterans rely on foodstamps to feed their families. […]

    Like

    Pingback by GOP Compares People On EBT To Animals- Majority Are Women, Children, And Veterans | The Fifth Column — May 1, 2014 @ 4:52 AM | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

AGR Daily News Service

Transformational Change; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur ("The thing itself speaks")

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and adventurers.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: