Left Justified: Support the troops on Veterans’ Day

By Stanley Campbell

This Veterans’ Day, I’d like to propose you not send soldiers into harm’s way without a really good reason. Bringing democracy to a country is not a good reason, especially when our troops do not speak their language, are not familiar with the customs, and are unpopular with the civilians.

I think we are correct in searching for Osama bin Laden, arresting him and anyone who aids his cause. But trying to set up a new government has proven to be a bit difficult, if not impossible. Iraq’s U.S.-imposed government is on shaky ground, though doing better than expected. Afghanistan is a lost cause, in my humble opinion. We can support democratic groups, but don’t have our soldiers doing the chores of their police.

Let’s just get Osama and leave. And if you need convincing…

Local peace groups are sponsoring a free showing of the documentary Rethink Afghanistan beginning at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 9, at the JustGoods Listening Room, 201 Seventh St. The program is free and open to the public, and is a critical 90-minute look at the Afghanistan War. I urge anyone with an open mind to see this film, if not here, then search the Internet and see it for free.

When people ask me about supporting troops, I reply: Pay the people in service well enough that they don’t need food stamps to feed their families.

Give veterans the medical benefits they are entitled to, such as seeing doctors without waiting months for an appointment, and cover their drugs—and don’t cover up illnesses as was done with Agent Orange, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD, i.e., battle fatigue), Gulf War Syndrome and depleted uranium.

For more than 200 years, patriotic soldiers have shed their blood defending the Constitution; we should do all we can to preserve that Constitution and our rights. Those who would trash our rights in pursuit of personal power and World Empire should be trashed themselves.

Veterans’ Day is no laughing matter, but the local Veterans for Peace group is hosting a humorous folksinger at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11, (again at JustGoods, 201 Seventh St.). Dave Lippman entertains as well as commemorates the war, and is well versed in beautifully sentimental songs. Dave is also a satirist who has written scathing songs about war, poverty and our state of affairs. We’ll take up a collection to feed the musician and to support the beginnings of a local Veterans for Peace group here in Rockford.

Veterans gather to help one another, to support the troops, and to socialize while doing a bit of healing. Many veterans’ groups are considered a bit conservative, which is unfortunate, especially when they support whatever war our government decides to get into.

When I returned home from Vietnam (I’d served in the U.S. Army—not with the VC), I went into the local VFW Club and paid my dues. I was met with skepticism and the statement “Vietnam wasn’t a real war.” VFW stands for “Veterans of Foreign Wars,” and they’d just taken my membership money, so I was a little miffed. I later found some local Vietnam vets who formed their own group, VietNow.

Larry Philips was a former classmate of mine at St. Bernadette’s School. He’d come back from Vietnam and began meeting with other veterans who were suffering from PTSD. Most people did not want to hear about troubled vets, so Larry huddled with his buddies and tried to solve their own problems. Larry was a great leader, and saved a lot of lives.

However you celebrate Veterans’ Day, please remember to thank a vet, and to kick our Congressman’s butt for not supporting the veteran.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the November 4-10, 2009 issue

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