By Mackenzie Clark
Some people believe we may be leaving Iraq and Afghanistan in a dangerous state if we bring our troops home now. Some people believe we’re doing the right thing by bringing the troops home. Frankly, that’s not my concern. Regardless of our personal opinions on war, we need to remember to thank those who have fought for our country.
The men and women serving overseas in the United States Armed Forces didn’t ask to go to war. They didn’t want to leave their families and friends behind to go to the other side of the world and live in a desert wasteland for months or years at a time… but they did, for you and for me.
Many of these veterans dealt with conditions most of us would consider unlivable. They saw their friends die. They saw the unthinkable; the unimaginable. They are returning home completely different individuals from the people they were when they left.
According to Win Over PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), an organization devoted to helping combat veterans and their families, one in five combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from PTSD. That’s over 300,000 veterans in the past six years.
A study by the Center for a New American Security in October 2011 stated that although only one percent of Americans have served in the military, former service members account for 20 percent of the suicides in this country. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that a veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes.
Despite these shocking statistics, Congress is discussing making cuts to veterans’ benefits. With all the imprudent spending, including billions of dollars in aid to foreign countries, this is where they have decided to try to make cuts.
Let’s compare. In this economy, over a third of American households receive government assistance of some kind, according to a report by CNN Money on Feb. 7. This is up $2 trillion, or 75 percent, since 10 years ago.
A report from the US Census Bureau says that in 1980, the U.S. provided almost $9.7 billion total in aid to foreign countries. In 2009, this was up to nearly $45 billion.
So, instead of attempting to cut down on welfare fraud, or reassessing what countries really need aid from us, our representatives and senators in Congress choose to attack the one percent of those who have actually served the country and need the help of the government more than anyone?
Words can’t begin to express how far off our government is when it comes to handling just about anything, but this is an extreme example. What they are telling us is that they are willing to sacrifice those men and women who sacrificed for us.
Next time you see a veteran, stop and say thank you. Your government certainly isn’t.
Contact Mackenzie Clark, editor-in-chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org.