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Supporting the Troops GOP Style

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Message Peggy McCann
I can't help but notice the furor regarding John Kerry's remarks on Monday. Guessing by the coverage it's getting, this must be the only important thing happening in the United States or for that matter the world. Talk radio is positively frothing over the issue.

So, since it's obviously so incredibly vital, I thought I'd add a comment or two of my own about the situation.

I am sure you all know the story by now, but in case you didn't the upshot is that he bungled a joke aimed at President Bush, and seemed to say that the military is a second choice option for people that can't get anything better.

Well, I hate to say this, he might not have meant it that way, but that is actually sadly correct for many enlisted people through zero fault of their own.

Who in their right mind would serve these days? Have any of these ersatz patriots screaming about John Kerry looked at the way we treat our folks in the military?

We pay them poverty wages. There are military families right now on food stamps.

We sent them to Iraq on lies, we abused them by extending their tours of duty far beyond what we promised them. We didn't even give them proper equipment. As a result many are coming back with horrific, permanent debilitating injuries.

If they do come back injured, once they get out of the hospital they often don't receive proper treatment. There was a story on NPR recently about a man that came back without a hand and steel rods in his back. As a result of his injuries he has suffered bone infections. He is disabled and cannot work at his old job of car mechanic. He is now living in his car and sneaking into his former gym everyday when it's busy so he can shower. When the V.A. found out about his situation, they told him he should go to a Salvation Army homeless shelter.

In the face of such maltreatment, the question remains: Who would volunteer for this?

It's very simple. Many people do enter the service because they don't have better options. They think that it is a shot at a better life. This is not a poor reflection on them. In fact, it is an admirable one. They don't sink to the level of dealing drugs, or committing some other crimes. They instead try to do something positive.

It is, however, a very poor reflection on our society. A society that has provided few options for the disadvantaged. A society that provides little in the way of opportunity if you can't afford a decent education. A society that then ignores people when they do things like enter the military because it doesn't affect "us", the REAL people after all.

The dirty little secret is we know it's a second rate option, and we'd rather not have OUR kids there, not as enlisted personnel anyway. But by golly nobody better say so.

Oh we pay a lot of lip service to how we honor service people. We have those yellow magnets on our cars don't we! But I'd like to know how many of the people sputtering in outrage over Kerry have ever called Congress and demanded better treatment of veterans or even sent a soldier a care package.

And as for the politicians, I don't need to hear from them until I see some of their kids serving instead of slaving away at Princeton, Harvard or Brown. But I doubt you're going to see that anytime soon. Just like Dick Cheney, they have "other priorities"
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Peggy McCann is a mother and writer living in Greensboro, NC.
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