Veterans: A gesture of gratitude

By Angelou del Angel | Published Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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I must confess that though I served, I was never in combat. I was Navy, and my second duty station, the USS Lassen, was under construction in Pascagoula, Miss., in the very same shipyard that built the USS Cole.

This was also at the very same time that the Cole came back to that very yard to repair a gaping hole in her side. It was a wake-up call, since the Lassen was the same class of destroyer, and the hole was just as easy to imagine on our hull as on hers.

Naturally, we redoubled our vigilance on watches, and in weapons training, but still, I’d never see combat. Hence, nowadays I come home, meet other veterans and quickly feel a sense of who the true heroes are: those who were on the ground, exchanging fire. It made me feel like support staff.

So when someone tells me “thank you for your service,” I sincerely appreciate the gesture, but it rings a bit hollow for me because I never risked as much as the boots on the ground did.

Dwelling on it, maybe that’s partly why I opted to use my veteran’s benefits to pursue degrees in neuroscience and psychology. I hope that someday, when better treatments are pioneered, some deserving hero suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury will tell me “thank you for your service” for my part-to-be in doing so.

But there’s another reason that “thank you for your service” feels hollow of late: Congress.

When lawmakers write a jobs bill for veterans and then turn right around and shoot it down, it’s hard not to feel a little betrayed. Our own senator from Texas, John Cornyn, is guilty of this, having voted against H.R. 5683, the Veteran’s Job Corps Act.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was a fantastic idea in FDR’s time (some readers might remember it) and H.R. 5683 is similar, seeking to rebuild national infrastructure while putting vets to work, thereby addressing two problems at once.

That’s just one example of several, though. Here are more instances in which our “patriotic” Congress has said one thing and done another. It’s mostly been Republicans blocking these, but a handful of Democrats are also to blame.

  • H.R. 466 – Wounded Veteran Job Security Act (became H.R. 2875.)
  • H.R. 1168 – Veterans Retraining Act
  • H.R. 1171 – Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization
  • H.R. 1172 – Requiring List on VA Website of Organizations Providing Scholarships for Veterans
  • H.R. 1293 – Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009
  • H.R. 1803 – Veterans Business Center Act
  • H.R. 2352 – Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act

In light of this obstructionism, I have a request for everyone who, upon meeting a veteran, says “thank you for your service.”

Back it up.

Hire veterans. Write your congressmen and women, and put the pressure on them to follow words through with deeds. Check your legislator’s record on these bills, and if they voted against them, then vote the bums out.

Then, on behalf of everyone who served, when bills like these can pass again, I’ll sincerely thank you for your service to us.

Angelou del Angel
Dallas (formerly of Bridgeport)

One Response to “Veterans: A gesture of gratitude”

  1. Andrew Wynn says:

    Nice attempt to disguise government interference in the economy as something else all together.

    Roosevelt’s CCC and WPA gave a handful of folks jobs at greater cost to the rest at large, and his policies throughout the Great Depression prolonged the misery of the people who were supposed to benefit. When government directs the allocation of resources, there will be waste, fraud, and inefficiency. The free market is by far the best mechanism for directing the use of resources. The problem in America is—and had been for a long, long time—government intervention.

    Before you rant about “big business” taking advantage of the little guy, try to recognize that theft is a crime already. The truth of the matter is that government allows big business to take advantage of the consumer through regulation and stifling of competition. So-called “regulation” is presented to the electorate as something that benefits them, but in truth it hurts the consumer. You cannot dictate that an enterprise produce goods for the consumer at such and such a price.

    Back to the subject. All these feel-good bills you tout…do you really believe that these are anything other than growth of government? Do you know anything about the VA health care system? Do you know any disabled veterans, or have you visited any of them in the VA hospital in Dallas? If you have, you will know that many of our nation’s heroes lie in their own excrement for hours on end while the nursing staff conducts their social life.

    Do you really think the title of these bills reflects the contents of them realistically? Ever heard of “The Affordable Care Act,” and have you heard of the chaos it is creating in the health care sector?

    The best way to reward veterans for their sacrifice is to give them a country that is like the one they volunteered (or not in some cases) to serve and to protect. That would mean economic Liberty for all, no more “crony capitalism” (which is really fascism), no more economic regulation, no more deficit spending, no more private Federal Reserve, and doing away with a lot of other things that have been the result of the invention of the “Commerce Clause.” In other words, restore the Constitution and follow it.

    It never ceases to amaze me that time after time, when DC says to the People “boy, have we got a deal for you!” the People fall for it. Lucy is not going to hold the football still for Charlie Brown, but Charlie Brown’s actions reveal him as the fool he is.

    So, if you REALLY want veterans to get a fair shake, let everyone else have a fair shake too and forget about creating special benefits for special groups. There are things veterans receive as a condition for their service, and that’s a good thing…a part of the compensation package. Compensation for service men SHOULD be good.

    By the way…I am a veteran myself. My country has met its obligation to me thus far, and I ask no more. All I want is the country I defended, not the socialist cesspool it’s being made into.


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