Disillusioned by America's treatment of vets? Place blame where it's due

Sarah Palin has blamed Obama and post-traumatic stress disorder for her son's troubles. She is absolutely right that today's veterans face some tough challenges: PTSD, the worst economic growth since the Great Depression hindering civilian job prospects, flat wages since the 1970s, political impotence, lack of medical treatment and resources, outdated GI bills, etc.

I did not vote for Obama, but Obama did not get us into Iraq or Afghanistan. Those are the actions of George W. Bush -- a Republican. However, Obama is not innocent of military support and aggression in regime change -- Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt (twice), Tunisia and Yemen to name a few.

As a fellow veteran (2003-2008), I am sympathetic to Track Palin. His alleged actions were not right, but no different than countless other veterans. In 2008, the country was in the Great Recession, with no job prospects and a "war;" why not enlist? I wonder if military recruitment would be as successful if we said, "Young man, you are not responsible enough to drink (Track would have been 18 in 2008); so, you are not rational enough to join the armed forces." Would our nation be as imperialistic and aggressive without its supply of young men to fight?

Track is now a veteran. Many veterans can relate to heavy drinking, risk taking and thoughts of suicide at one time or another. How can you give up your youth, time and energy and come back to a nation that does not understand? "Just work harder," they say. "Cowboy up." No, assault and domestic violence are never acceptable. If Track Palin did what is alleged, would he have done it if our nation was never at war? His mom is suggesting Track would not have gotten into trouble if there had been no war for him to enlist in.

No one wants to discuss who the real enemies are: poverty, ignorance and lack of opportunity -- enemies that cannot be defeated with bombs and violence. They can only be defeated through shared economic prosperity and education. Americans, Germans, Mexicans, Iranians, Syrians, Russians and Chinese -- these distinctions are made by imaginary lines drawn to divide people for control. Republicans and Democrats are both guilty and use deflection to mask who is getting richer, shifting the blame onto irrelevant targets.

Ponder. Germany lost WWI; acquired high debt due to the Treaty of Versailles; suffered a great depression; experienced economic malaise; had a leader rise to power saying he will bring back jobs and make Germany great again; blamed Jews/socialists/communists; and went on a path of fascism and tyranny resulting in global war.

The United States gave huge tax cuts for the wealthy in the 1980s (Reaganomics); acquired high debt because of an "unprecedented structural deficit" (from tax cuts for the rich); suffered a financial crisis (by deregulating the financial industry and removing Glass-Steagall). The United States is currently experiencing economic malaise (due to a concentration of wealth in the hands of a few) and has a potential leader saying he will make America great again and bring back/create jobs by blaming Muslims/Hispanics/immigrants. How far will our historical repetition go?


Someone once said, "Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past."

Neither Track, nor most of the young men and women who serve(d), voted to invade Iraq or Afghanistan. I cannot recall anyone in my 88-man outfit who joined for patriotism. It was jobs, education and/or money -- the cures of poverty, ignorance and lack of opportunity. We can only operate within the parameters given to us by those who came before us. Neither Track, nor any other millennial, voted for Ronald Reagan and the current economic policy of Reaganomics, yet we inherited a nation with broken roads, failing schools, high debt and lack of resources -- and not because of our own actions, but of the actions of those who voted and led before us.

Both Republicans and Democrats have been lining their pockets at the expense of the ignorant masses. If you want veterans to have access to appropriate medical resources, cut the supply of veterans. Stop military aggression and wars that have nothing to do with freedom. Since 2001, Americans have only lost freedoms -- mostly to Republican leadership. The Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency have nothing to do with society's enemies. But I assure you, if you tried to ban those agencies and support a more pluralistic society with socioeconomic prosperity for all -- you might end up on their list. This society is not a fictional society, it has happened in history before.

Sarah Palin is right and wrong. Veterans are having a tough time. Blaming Obama is shortsighted and lacks intelligent thinking. Republicans are just as guilty (if not more so) than Democrats in our veteran crisis.

Phillip V. Morrill is a U.S. Navy veteran deployed to Iraq in 2003-04 and again for the "surge" in 2007. He was accepted for placement in the U.S. Naval Academy but left the Naval Academy Preparatory School in 2006 for "the same reasons that novelist George Orwell resigned as a British imperial police officer."

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Phillip Morrill

Phillip Morrill is a U.S. Navy veteran.