Veterans are getting screwed more than you or I knew.
As a proud veteran of the US Army, I fought tears as I read how the pain of our combat veterans has been manipulated by war profiteers. I put on that green uniform and I swore to put my life on the line. I became a lifetime member of the Jewish War Veterans and the co-surgeon general for the Jewish war veterans and I tried, really tried, to make things better for the troops.
I love those guys and gals. In a waiting room at the VA in Oklahoma City we sang “As the Caissons go rolling along.” They told me they wished they had known women who knew the military life like me, who kissed and hugged and cried when they told me about when they were young and committed and subsisted on nothing but cornmeal mush and were all full of “Piss and vinegar.” Nobody in my family had served in the military before and my parents did not even know of what they were afraid of. I did not have an easy time there. I dealt with a raw anti-semitism I did not know existed after WWII. I think it is still alive — I don’t know exactly where it is now and I really don’t want to locate it. I was a “female” then, too, and it was not yet in style. The first story I found on this told the financial, the business-conspiratorial side of the story. The NPR tells a very human side. It seems we give troops Adderall (an amphetamine) or opioids or such in unmarked baggies with orders to take them.
The process does not really surprise me. The thing that bothered me personally about being in the military was the suspension of civil rights. Here I was defending the Freedom of Speech, the first Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and it was a higher officer who once explained to me that if people in uniform ever actually did that, It would really screw up the chain of command. I understand a little. I remember being horrified when I found out years ago that when British troops attacked the Falkland Islands, everyone had little bags of Adderall, the amphetamine. Somehow I was able to rationalize it in my head. I knew that people could not sleep for very long stretches in combat, and they didn’t attack the Falklands every day. Still, now I wonder. Does the side with the best and strongest drugs win? The NPR article tells of the lives ruined. Addicts tend to have “downward social drift.” Jobs are lost. People lose irreplaceable family support. They live on the streets. We are destroying American human capital. We are making veterans worse than cannon fodder. Big Pharma finances “pain foundations.” Men and women who cannot give — are not allowed to give — informed consent while in service to their country are rendered dependent on medications. VA doctors continue doses after the veterans are separated from active duty — I doubt there are enough rehab programs for all the veterans who are addicted. “Dependency not addiction?” They’ve got to be kidding. The reintegration of fighting force into civilian life has been difficult since the Revolutionary War. It is harder now as our federal government has not only involved but invited moneyed interests to usurp its mandate. When Ben Franklin walked out of Independence Hall in Philly, it is said a woman asked him if he gave the citizens a democracy. He said something to the effect that they, did — but it was up to us to keep it. I don’t think we did. I don’t know how to start a revolution in this country when very moneyed interests are so clearly running things.
Our upcoming presidential election, giving voters a choice of two people nobody seems to actually like who yell at each other, promotes only one industry known to me — standup comedy. Citizens lose, comedians gain. Yes, I am fighting tears as I write. I get this way too often. Our veterans are getting screwed, increasing their risk of death after surviving combat, being put in situations without adequate resources to recover lives devoted to American Ideals. Yes — I say they are being screwed, and I have not funds nor political power to help them. My only power is to tell you, so I am.