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Thursday, October 6, 2011

War? Who Cares? By Leo Dougherty

    Since the beginning of the war in Iraq I have been saying to anyone who would listen how easy it is for those in Congress who never wore the uniform and who do not have loved ones in the service to send other people’s children, brothers and sisters, and moms and dads into war. It’s real easy to do when you have never served or spent any time in the dangerous situations that often occur during military service.  Most often the response I get is an odd look from the person I am talking to. And, if I’m in a public place I notice others who overhear my comments shake their heads while smiling knowingly, probably thinking I don’t know anything about what I am saying. 

    I have also been saying for a very long time that multiple deployments are unfair and jeopardize the health and welfare, not to mention the lives of those who experience those multiple deployments. And I normally add that it’s shameful that a great majority of Americans just don’t care so long as it’s someone else’s loved one in harm’s way.

    Last night, Wednesday, October 5, 2011, Brian Williams and Jim Miklaszewski reported on NBC Nightly News about the disconnect between Americans and the wars. Among other statistics, it was reported that only about 25% of civilians pay any attention to the wars. 

    Can you imagine that? Seventy five percent of our society do not care about the wars and, apparently, about our young men and women who daily place their lives in danger for us. Despite the fact that we all pay to clothe, feed, transport, arm and, at least while they’re still in the service provide for the medical care of military personnel, 75% of Americans don’t care. 

    Last week I received the October 2011 VFW Magazine and on the “Now Hear This” page was the headline, “Military Draft Opposed.” The short story said, “According to a Rasmussen Reports poll in July, more than two-thirds (67%) of likely American voters oppose bringing back a military draft. 15% are not sure. Only 18% of the voting public favors conscription.”

    Whether our society intends it or not, this is the majority of America appearing to say they don’t care about war, about those who serve, and those who have served so long as it’s someone else’s loved one. That’s a pretty bold statement and I confess it’s only my opinion but even if I am incorrect, it is a perception that many who have served share. Sometimes, perceptions are stronger than reality.

    One thing is for certain. If the draft was reinstated, members of Congress who never wore a uniform would much more carefully consider when and where we send those who serve into combat. And, if those members of Congress who never served and yet have loved ones who would be required to serve in the event of war, you can bet they would make a careful determination about war. They would very likely be attuned to, concerned about, and willing to support with benefits those who did serve when they come back home. 

     In this morning’s Tampa Tribune a story by the Associated Press said that a Pew Research Center poll indicated one in three veterans say the wars are not worth it. The story said, “Nearly 4,500 U. S. troops have died in Iraq and about 1,700 in Afghanistan. Combined war costs since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have topped $1 trillion.”
    How many houses could have been built with this money? How many bridges, tunnels and roadways could have been repaired, rebuilt or upgraded with this money? How many critically ill children could we have cared for with this money? How much investment in scientific, medical, or technological research could have been made with this money?

    For a sobering eye-opening experience on the cost of the current wars, go to and just watch as the numbers move so fast it will make you dizzy. While I cannot vouch for the veracity of the figures, they do present a picture of spending that will make you wonder just what these wars have done to our economy.

    The Iraq war has cost more than $798 billion. The Afghanistan war has cost more than $461 billion. Both figures appear to increase by more than $1,000.00 each second. It’s mind boggling. 

    Should only a small minority of Americans be required to fight our wars? Should only a small minority of American families bear the brunt of worry and loss? Should we send those who volunteer to serve back into combat again and again? Should we accept that a great majority of Americans just don’t care about the wars and the warriors? Should a group of politicians who have never worn a military uniform be permitted to decide whether or not to plunge our country into war? Should we continue spending more than $1,000.00 per second for each of the current wars?

    I’m just one person but my answer to all of those questions is no. If the draft was reinstated, even if just on an as-needed basis, those questions would not have to be asked.

    Finally, why are we allowing 75% of America to enjoy the protection of our military without bearing any of the burdens the warriors and their families must bear? It’s long past the time for veterans and veterans’ families to speak out.

**** Leo is a regular contributor to VA Watchdog Today dot Org.  You can find his previous articles by clicking here.  He is an accredited agent advocate who has been representing Veterans for 25+ years.  He is a Navy Veteran and I'm honored to call him my friend.  ***Wendi***

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