Our Combat Vets Deserve More

I get very huhu about the casual way Americans treat people in the armed services, war veterans and those still posted in Afghanistan.

Many in politics and punditry seem to yearn for war – Iran, Syria, Libya, maybe Egypt. They’re the ones who don’t have to fight; who will sit down for a comfy dinner with their families every night.

We have almost 40,000 troops in Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal and others are clamoring to keep 8,000-12,000 there after the exit-except-for-trainers at the end of this year.

Bob Jones in 1991 with Kaneohe Marines in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm | Photo from Bob Jones

Bob Jones in 1991 with Kaneohe Marines in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm | Photo from Bob Jones

We’ve had 2,000-plus killed in Afghanistan combat and 3,524 killed in combat in Iraq; 47,424 combat deaths in Vietnam. More than 355,000 wounded sufficiently to require hospitalization in those three wars.

And yet the stay-at-home gang wants to leave 8,000-12,000 indefinitely in harm’s way in Afghanistan?

But here’s what makes me even more huhu. We have 700,000 veterans on the wait list for their disability claims to be processed!

I’m a longtime acquaintance of U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki of Kauai, going back to our foxhole days in Vietnam. He lost a chunk of a foot there. I figured he’d become the vets’ biggest friend.

No, he has tolerated the nation’s embarrassing veterans’ wait list.

I figured President Barack Obama would can him after the last election.

No, he’s praised him for cutting the wait list by just 20 percent.

It’s not right. But most of you tolerate it because you get more worked up about Obamacare and same-gender marriage than you ever do about caring for war veterans.

We’ve spent $100 billion rebuilding Afghanistan, but we make a veteran wait around for that disability clearance.

It’s not right.

The U.S. Council of Economic Advisers says 10 percent of veterans who have served since the 9/11 strike on New York and the Penta gon are unemployed – way above the national level of unemployment.

But, hey, we need more nation-rebuilding money, more than $3,000 for every one of the 40 million people of Afghanistan.

GI Joe and Jane have to wait.

It’s been like this all my adult life. We did all sorts of good things for returning GIs after World War II. That’s how the plantation boys of the 100th Battalion got college degrees.

But lately? We’ve treated Iraq/Afghanistan combat vets as expendables.

Only 16 of the current members of Congress served in any capacity, mostly non-patrol-and-combat like current U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard or ex-Rep. Charles Djou, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Djou was an on-base lawyer. Gab-bard did Iraq in a medical support unit and Afghanistan with a military police platoon.

They were “in harm’s way,” for sure, but never out there on the infantryman’s most hazardous job.

They at least know about the most hazardous combat jobs.

Most in Congress do not.