Last month I blogged about issue of debt collection against our veterans and the issue of the treatment of our veterans continues to weigh on my mind. It would not be hard for anyone reading my blogs to determine I am a liberal. In fact, a description of me as a Yellow Dog Democrat will never offend me. And as a liberal, I generally believe war stinks. In fact, I hate it. I believe it is a significant drain on our nation’s treasure and American lives. That does not mean, however, that I do not believe some wars are righteous. If people come onto American soil and kill 2,977 American lives, then I wholeheartedly believe we should pursue those responsible and punish them in the most severe manner possible. But I am not a big fan of those other kind of wars – the ones started, in my opinion, just to line some fat cat defense contractor’s pocket. But regardless of my opinions on righteous and unrighteous wars, one thing we can and should all agree on, if we try, is the care for the physical and mental well being of our servicemen and women that we have asked to serve.
I am proud of our military men and women currently serving and our veterans. My mom and dad both served in the Navy during World War Two – that’s right, my mom was a Wave!! My father-in-law served as a naval pilot and my brother-in-law as an infantry soldier during the Vietnam War. My husband served in the Big Red One and my nephew served as a Marine in Iraq. I am thankful for their service and the sacrifices they made for our country. What I am not proud of is the physical and mental health care we give our servicemen and women when they return to us with scars seen and unseen.
In the greatest and richest country in the world, every single one of our injured veterans should have state of the art care for both physical and mental ailments. And make no mistake, they are coming home not only with physical injuries, including the loss of limbs, but also mental disorders based upon the experiences they are required to face in order to fight our wars for us. We have enough treasure in our country to insure, if we demand it, the finest prosthetics for our military amputees, the finest doctors for their physical and psychiatric care, highly trained service dogs and a bed for every single elderly veteran that needs one in a well- equipped and well-staffed VA nursing home. It is only right in return for the sacrifices they have made for us.
Here is an example that I have recently read – it’s not unique, unfortunately, and that is the most troubling aspect. In his new book, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, Senator Franken relates the story of Luis Montalvan, who served as an intelligence officer in Iraq. Captain Montalvan suffered from severe PTSD which was unrelenting until he obtained his service dog, Tuesday. He and Senator Franken worked together for the passage of a law that would fund a study of the benefits of service dogs for our servicemen and women versus the cost of training required for the animals. Note: this was NOT a law to provide our servicemen and women, where needed, with a service dog to assist them in integrating back in to our communities. It was simply a law to FUND A STUDY to see if the cost of training service dogs was justified by benefit it provided to our veterans. And the kicker to the story is it has taken nine years since the law was passed and the study will not be completed until 2018.
Why do we have to make things so difficult – at least with respect to this issue of the treatment of our veterans? Why do we have to spend nine years on something that’s hard to disagree with – that service dogs help our servicemen and women. I know that the partisan divide in this country gets stronger every day. We will never begin bridging the gap partisanship has created until we locate at least one issue we can work together on. If there was ever an issue on which we should be able to work together, it is the care of our veterans. I know our veterans mean as much to my conservative sisters and brothers as they do to my liberal self. What do you say, guys? Shall we join together and get started? After all, our veterans deserve it and they are waiting.