Politicizing our vets is just plain wrong

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Politicizing our vets is just plain wrong


Southwest News-Herald Newspaper, Friday, May 23, 2014

Names of Vietnam veterans at Vietnam Veterans ...

Names of Vietnam veterans at Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They say religion and politics don’t mix. They shouldn’t. Our Constitution created a separation between the two.

But too bad the Constitution didn’t go far enough and also separate politics and veterans.

It would save us all a lot of worthless bluster.

As a Vietnam-era veteran, I am appalled at how easily veterans are turned into political fodder to benefit one politician or the other. Most disturbing, too, is when the veteran organizations take partisan sides in political elections. Even worse, is when a politician gets an appointment to a gratuitous “military” position so they can pretend they are a part of the veteran community.

What we did as veterans, from World War I through the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, should be separate from politics.

That’s why I hate to see politicians wrap themselves in the issue of veterans, yet really do nothing.

If we want to make military service a part of our politics, reinstitute the draft. Make it mandatory that every son and daughter who reaches the age of 18 not only must register for military service, they must serve at least two years.

No reserve duty. No national guard. Active duty military service. And it shouldn’t matter what your grades are. No deferments for anyone. Conscientious objectors — and I respect their religious principles — should be forced to serve in non-combat positions in military uniform.

English: New York State Women Veterans Memoria...

English: New York State Women Veterans Memorial located next to the , , Albany, . The description on the sign next to the memorial says, “Dedicated to the Women of New York State for their War Time Military Service in the Defense of this Nation”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But what politician wants to stand up and make that demand of the American people?

The truth is the American public loves to celebrate and honor our veterans, but most do not want their sons or daughters to have to serve. They have turned it into a measure of patriotism. The more you scream about how much you love veterans, the more patriotic you are, it seems.

But that is not the case.

Patriotism is when you set aside your future and commit it to the protection of the nation. Not everyone will do that. A few presidents have served, but very few senators and congressman have served. Many who had the chance to serve used political clout to get stateside assignments in the reserves during wars.

So I say, when a politician uses the issue of veterans as a political weapon to attack another politician, ask that politician if he or she served. Ask them also if they believe that we should implement the draft and put our “money where our mouths are” and require every American to serve this country?

That’s when the honesty will surface. That’s when you will see who is real and who is using the issue of veterans for political gain.

Seriously, can any politician point a finger at another politician and argue that person doesn’t care about veterans?

That’s the most ridiculous statement that can be made. But it is made all the time. Look at those who are attacking President Obama and the issue of veteran’s care.

Are they saying that Obama is the only one who has forsaken our veterans?

The truth is every politician has failed when it comes to veterans rights, services and respect. And especially those who do the most screaming about it are the ones who are exploiting veterans issues.

Let’s show real respect for our veterans this Memorial Day. Let’s tell the politicians to stop using veterans as political weapons in campaigns and debates, and instead join together to do what’s right.

And, if you really are patriotic, let’s eliminate the double standard and make everyone’s son and daughter serve in our military. At least two years.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. He is the managing editor of the Illinois News Online www.TheIllinoisNewsNetwork.com. Reach him atwww.TheMediaOasis.com.

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Managing Editor at Illinois News Network
Managing Editor posting profile, Illinois News Network. [email protected]