On Veterans

The argument can be stated as such.

  1. If you are willing to risk your life for a worthy cause, then you ought to be recognized by others for doing so.
  2. Enlisting in the military is risking your life.
  3. The military exists to defend a nation.
  4. The defense of a nation is a worthy cause.
  5. So those people who have enlisted in the military ought to be recognized by others for doing so.

I find premises 3 and 4 to be questionable, for many reasons, but that isn’t my point here. I have friends and family who are veterans and I care about them very much, and I believe they joined the military because they believe in premises 3 and 4, that’s my point.

Today is Veteran’s Day. A day in which we give thanks to all of the people who have served in the Armed Forces. How do we thank them? By having this day! Where everybody who is off of work sits around and thinks about how great all those veterans are, wherever they may be. Maybe we post a picture of grandpa and Uncle Joe on the internet with a caption about how proud we are. In the meantime, 40,000 veterans will be sleeping on the street tonight, almost half of those being veterans of color, and another 1.5 million veterans are on the brink of joining them. I wonder what they think about Veteran’s Day?

The government spends more than half of its money on defense. This is in a country where if you want to have your baby in a hospital you better have cash, and you better get your ass to work the next day. A country where you have to spend $80,000 to get a job that pays $40,000 a year. A country where vast amounts of people are struggling to survive off of food stamps that are under constant threat of being taken away. We spend so much money on defense, in lieu of so much else, and yet we let even those who served in that respect suffer once their tour of duty has concluded.

For today to mean much, it needs to be backed up by a system that takes care of those people who believed in 3 and 4 so much that they abandoned the possibility of an easier and more stable life to prove it. In a perfect world, today ought to be a day that we remember those ancestors of ours who fought in wars that actually meant anything. The fact that this nation constantly produces new veterans without really explaining what the hell anybody is fighting for is ridiculous.

So, an election already happened, so I can’t really encourage you to vote. Even if I did, this isn’t an issue people make paramount to their campaign, though those candidates in favor of strengthening social services are the closest. If I have any advice, I suppose it’s to not just let days like this drift by. Today is meant to be a day to reflect on the sacrifices of veterans, so let’s do that, but do so in a way that lends itself to action. It isn’t the sacrifices that veterans chose to make that ought to drive our reflection, but the veterans who have been sacrificed by the very nation they sought to defend.