I got another letter from Help Hospitalized Veterans today, and I threw it straight in the trash. Actually, first I took out the crisp one dollar bill that was visible through the cellophane and stuck it in my wallet. Then I threw out the letter. They’re not getting another dime of my money.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great premise (although there may be some questions as to how the charity is managed). They give craft kits to veterans who are laid up in hospital beds. The model airplane kits and painting sets give these brave men and women a creative outlet to pass the time, but more importantly, they let them know that someone cares and appreciates the sacrifice they gave for their country. I’ve donated money to them here and there for the past four or five years which is probably why they keep sending me crisp one dollar bills.
Then it dawned on me the other day that while I might be helping some veterans, I was also perpetuating the cycle of our government sending our troops off to battle and then neglecting them when they end up in a hospital bed, minus a limb or two. So I will be donating to Help Hospitalized Veterans no more. That is, no more as long as we continue these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and continue a foreign policy of sticking our nose in hornets nests all around the world.
Supporters of the wars in the Middle East argue that the wars protect American lives. If we left now, terrorists would swoop in to fill the void and plot their attacks on America without the hassle of having to hide in caves. If we didn’t dispose of evil dictators, like Saddam Hussein, evil dictators would continue to murder and rob their own people. (Never mind that we helped put many of those dictators into power or that the Iraq war has killed over 850,000 Iraqi civilians.) They would say, without our armed forces all over the world, the terrorists might get a nuclear (or nucular) weapon. Maybe they’re right.
If the point of this article was to debate foreign policy, I would argue that the exact opposite is true. That our meddling in the Middle East makes more people hate us and makes us less safe. That having troops spread out all over the world makes our borders less secure. That spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on defense is contributing to the bankrupting our country and will lead to the real national security threat– the collapse of our dollar.
But this article is about the veterans. And so, to those who support America’s current foreign policy of wars of aggression, nation building, and meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign countries, I’d simply like to say, “You help hospitalized veterans!”
Our government certainly isn’t supporting them. The way we treat our veterans in this country is a travesty. By all accounts, VA hospitals are terrible. The government would rather spend years denying that Gulf War Syndrome exists, than pony up and pay for the care of our returning soldiers. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about 23% of all homeless people are veterans, many with substance abuse problems or mental illness caused by the horrors of war. Our government is way too big and needs to slash spending in almost every part of the budget, but we should increase spending towards supporting the veterans who were injured mentally or physically while serving our country. After all, if we are willing to send our young men and women into a war, we should be willing to pay all of the costs associated with that war.
If the Congress and Presidents who send our young men and women into battle won’t fully pay for the care they deserve, those who support the wars should step up to the plate. So, if that’s your position, please, help those hospitalized veterans by sending them craft kits. Or maybe send some money to Operation Mend to help repair the mangled faces of injured soldiers. And while you’re at it, give a few bucks whenever you see a homeless vet at a stoplight begging for change. Take some time to help a blind vet, who lost her sight to IED shrapnel, cross the street; or to console a family whose son was one of the record number of soldiers who committed suicide while on duty.
To those who oppose the wars and still want to donate to veterans causes, you will clearly be helping brave Americans.
To those who support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because you sincerely believe that the wars save American lives, then by all means, continue to push for what you believe is right. However, as you evaluate your stance on wars, just be sure to balance the lives the wars may save against the true costs of the lives destroyed by those wars.
As for me, I will continue to support hospitalized veterans by supporting efforts to keep them out of the hospital in the first place by stopping these perpetual, counterproductive wars. To me that’s worth a lifetime of craft kits.