I’m a big believer in doing what can be done to stop suicide, especially among VMGR (Veterans, Military Guard and Reserves). So I feel torn by Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans of America’s petition drive to get Congress to “do something” about it. Clearly, there are some actions Congress can take, but I can’t believe that America’s government is really willing to tackle military suicide at its root cause: war.
Please don’t misunderestimate this. Countries of liberty like America need and deserve a strong defense. But the thread that connects that fact to the reality of what America and other liberty-loving nations fear, and how those fears somehow make intervention in so many parts of the world an American problem — this is not at all clear.
How well would you do your job if you weren’t passionate about it? Maybe I’m just unique — I know many people who slog through a passionless workday because the paycheck somehow makes it worthwhile. From what I know of non-mercenary military paychecks, it’s hard to see how money alone can be enough to keep America’s service members coming back day after day.
Serving in uniform takes a special kind of commitment; Congress has done what it can to grapple with that fact, but government is just not a capable humanitarian organization. Ask any Veteran trying to get care at a VA Medical Center, or trying to claim rightful benefits for service-connected injuries. The government just doesn’t serve its injured warriors well. If government even came close to being effective there wouldn’t be a need for the thousands of non-governmental humanitarian organizations serving Veterans much better than government.
So, while I applaud IAVA’s initiative, and while such things clearly “call attention” to the poignant problems, it’s foolhardy to ask Congress to do any better at solving them. Much more effective would be petitioning Congress to help stop the rudderless worldwide military action that’s caused so many military suicides and overloaded the Veterans Administration. Petitioning Congress and the President to let the military do what it does best by setting a clear military objective and then getting out of its way seems like an effective and reasonable way to exert influence.
The Congresses and Presidents we’ve elected since Vietnam have proven they aren’t capable of directing a war well. That’s not their job, after all. If we really wanted to “do something for the Veterans” it would be most effective to elect politicians who stand down and trust career military leaders to prosecute military action.
Perhaps that would bring America closer to a time of peaceful defense, rather than random military involvement in global politics.
America earned some of its lessons of liberty with blood and inglorious sacrifice. Other nations America respects may deserve their own opportunity to learn those lessons, too, in whatever way they choose, rather than under American’s “protection” and influence. This course of action won’t leave warfighters watching their hard-fought objectives falling back into the “wrong” hands, wondering what their sacrifice was for, worried that it was all for naught. No one who’s worn a military uniform ought to be forced by their government to confront those questions, but that’s the government America has until and unless we vote to change it.