Much is owed to our veterans. However, as our country invests more and more in Defense spending and we become better and better at delivering “overwhelming force,” support for our veterans has been at a standstill at best, and I would argue has suffered. This awful trend began with our Vietnam-era veterans, a time when those who wore the uniform were subjected to graphic name-calling, public humiliation, and over-the-top allegations.
What does this have to do with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, one might ask? This is the very cause of why veterans get little “tangible” support from the general public, not to mention the lack of trust many veterans have of civilians when it comes to military and veterans’ affairs. And rightfully so. The majority of veterans in our country today are still Vietnam vets that remember their “heroes’ welcome” like it was yesterday and they are not shy about passing down the stories to generations of veterans that followed.
And one might also be quick to point out that Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are not being spit on, are not being called names, and are not being ridiculed in public. Fine! But that is a far cry from the treatment our Word War II veterans received.
And one should realize what became of our WWII veterans. It just so happens they earned the title of “America’s Greatest Generation.” Yes, they were the best of the best, not just the best our country had to offer, but the best in the world. Not bad for a bunch young draftees and volunteers.
And finally, one might ask, what is the point? It’s simple. Just because our veterans are not being spit on or demonized in the media, does not mean we are supporting our troops, or veterans. It just means we are not spitting on them or demonizing them. So what are we doing? Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been getting the “Silent Treatment” since the first Marine set foot on foreign soil.
In fact, many argue that the signature wounds of these current wars are invisible wounds, most notably Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In a time of exponentially higher levels of evictions for recently returned veterans, substantially higher levels of unemployment, substantially higher levels of divorce… alcohol abuse, drug abuse, suicide, etc… Should we add the “Silent Treatment” or “(ST)” to this very same list?
Alexander Manis is the Deputy Director and co-founder of The G.I. Go Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports returning veterans and serves as the Deputy Director of the G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center of Newark, a partnership created by Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker and The G.I. Go Fund and is the first ever nonprofit municipal Office of Veterans Affairs in the nation.