I won’t take the credit for this Daily Local News editorial. I didn’t write it but I think it’s worth posting here as well along with some of my thoughts:
“Combat troops have been withdrawn from Iraq; a withdrawal from Afganistan will begin shortly with a goal of having them removed by 2014. While a large number of troops will remain in both nations, it is hoped that their role will not be in combat so much as support.
“The military is planning to shrink and more service personnel will return to civilian life in the coming years as the armed forces bulk down to peacetime status.
“American society and our government do not always do a good job in helping the transition for our military personnel. This essay is not a scold. The issue is recognized from lamentable experience throughout the 20th century in our country. It helps everyone — our veterans, those who support them and those who would do right by them — to recollect this fact going forward.
“Indeed, the House of Representatives last week passed legislation by an overwhelming vote to increase health care spending for veterans and provide more money for war veterans claiming service-related disabilities as they return home.
“The vote was bipartisan — this issue generally receives bipartisan support — but somehow or another we expect this Congress and this administration to somehow make a muck of things. And that’s all right as long as they figure out a way to fall forward on it and not tie it up in one of their games of political chicken.
“The Veterans Administration appears to be gearing up. Nationally — and locally at the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center — the VA has been increasing publicity on programs that are available to service veterans.
“The Coatesville VA, for example, made its presence felt at the Brandywine Hospital Strawberry Festival over the weekend.
“Its booth provided information about VA health care and benefits. Health care professionals were on hand to discuss eligibility requirements and begin the enrollment process.
“For example, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are eligible for five years of free health care for conditions that may be related to their military service.
“The Coatesville VA Medical Center has treated a total of 3,488 Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans since the conflicts began, including 944 since October 2011, according to information from the VA.
“VA health care professionals hold a post-deployment clinic each week providing mental health care, primary care and social work services.
“It is important for some Americans to remember that these benefits accrue to our military personnel by right. They have earned this benefit for their service to our nation.
“Rumbling nationally has started in certain quiet corners about the cost of all this. It really is not up for debate. To put it in blunt, if cold, financial language, it is a contracted cost of our country going forward to the men and women who served.”
I couldn’t agree more. It would be almost criminal to take away this benefit. While I am not a fan of war I understand it’s part of our world. I know I couldn’t perform the duties of a soldier — I admit to not having the courage. So I appreciate what the men and women of our armed forces do for my life. They have given the ultimate sacrifice so that I can live the kind of life I have. And there’s no real way for me to repay that debt. If it means a few bucks out of my wallet so they get the care and benefits they deserve than so be it.
We should all be that grateful.
— Andy Hachadorian