2016-12-01 / Letters

After election, veterans are what remain the same

To the editor:

We get what we got.

On the eve of the 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor, while Pearl Harbor survivors and folks who first hand witnessed that event will again congregate and take note of their dwindling numbers, I’d like to reflect on more recent history – history that is racing by us today.

Election season 2016.

It’s over – the 2016 presidential election. It doesn’t matter now who or what party won. For sure, at least not to our veterans and for those whom are about to become our newest veterans (if they survive enemies bent on killing Americans and then they survive debilitating demons haunting their own mind); it doesn’t matter. They are veterans and make up less than 10 percent of our population. Combat veterans, much less. To them, who won the White House doesn’t matter.

Ironically, it seems to matter little to our elected officials – not all of them – but I think too many. Why? How can they not know that usually a half-hour away from vibrant centers of commerce, in bleak, down-scale street ghettos reeking of exhaust and blowing with trash, an aged veteran on crutches lives in a dismal residential motel or one room apartment? Every morning he hobbles to a nameless corner diner for a cheap breakfast because it’s all he has. Or ever will. He’s waiting to die.

Washington. Do they really not know nor do they simply not care? It’s a matter of priorities, I’m told. I have no reason to not believe that. Regardless, it doesn’t matter.

How many of our elected officials have ever spent, not visited, but spent real time in a Legion hall, a VFW hall, etc., and really listened to, god, that kind of people. The reason, I suspect, is that any given veterans halls will ever produce many votes and likely never donate to a campaign. Of course, they’re right, according to people who keep track of such things. Many Veterans, for whatever reason, don’t vote – maybe because they feel they’ve paid their pound of hide and for what? To be forgotten, ignored, and stalled, by a VA system that seems constipated by incompetence and overwhelming bureaucracy? Why the VA isn’t working doesn’t matter.

Most veterans only ask for what was promised, what they served for, what they suffered for, what unspeakable actions they witnessed and in which they were perhaps a part – all in the name of following orders. Orders they were given, indirectly from us through our elected leaders, “to carry out to the best of” their ability. That is what matters – at least it did.

And they obeyed those orders; meanwhile implanting mental images seared in by combat that never ever really go away. They’re home now. We’d like to think: Maybe it’s all over.

It’s over – the 2016 presidential election. While it may not matter now who or what party won, what I can say who was the loser – again. Our veterans. The election is over but not the daily torment that robs them of everyday activities the rest of us take for granted.

If you have a veteran, or know a veteran, who needs help, find a way to help them. You can also help by contacting a local veterans service organization. Local is best because legitimacy is more easily ensured. Ask how that veterans service organization helps veterans and how donations are used. If you don’t like the answer, go to the next one. Churches are a good place as well.

By finding a way to help out a veterans service organization or church may be the least you can do but that is often more than most ever do.

Gene Foster, USN Retired Arundel

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