By Michael Mottern
It was said to me at the Westside Buffalo New York VFW post where I received my hunting license by the instructors that we remember, above all else, hunter safety at all times and thank our veterans. Because if it wasn’t for them, I would not have the privilege of hunting public lands or freely backpacking around Europe. I get it, veterans have made a large sacrifice for us. But we were also told not to dress or act like militiamen or just shoot at anything. “Maybe you would like to take out your camera and snap a picture of your trophy animal instead…”
At that time in 1996 the NRA was not as taboo or the bankrupted organization that stands today. This is why Social Democrats USA recently passed a resolution for environmentalism, Food Justice and Hunters for Regulation & Environmental Protection. Expanding inclusiveness of the SD USA’s large tent of 99 percenters! This includes veterans rights and conservation.
Before 9/11, I believed the military and even conservatives were in limbo about where the military was going and who can their families rally behind for in support? Since then, there has been a sore feeling due to the continuous,endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (hopefully ended with today’s announced pullout), with the veterans at Walter Reed Hospital being really let down when it comes to their rights as well as their social benefits. Veterans overwhelmingly are the 99% that Occupy Wall Street was talking about and the 47% that the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign, for instance, was disparaging.
America has been outraged and disgusted at the way this country treats its veterans coming back from war and in the mental health community. We can say for certain that nobody cares more about or provide more money in Congress for Veterans Affairs than socialist senator Bernie Sanders; money for benefits like eyeglasses, dental care, hearing aids, mental health therapy and crisis services He understands that better facilities at VA hospitals would be more appreciated then longer deployments and a back door draft!
This isn’t the only time when service members and veterans men and women were screwed over by the government when it came to social welfare. In Buffalo New York in 1919, unemployed soldiers and sailors took to the streets demanding full employment and siding with the Buffalo Soviet before the police kicked out every protester from Niagara Square, most of whom were former and unemployed disgruntled Army personnel.
In 1932, Congress during the Great Depression cut off extra bonuses for homeless World War 1 veterans camping out in Washington DC – the Bonus Army. Instead of giving them coffee and sandwiches, President Herbert Hoover with the help of army officer George Patton expelled, shot and beat thousands of Bonus Marchers and killed and wounded several others. Patton would later say it was the lowest point of his career. In fact, these events were so contentious that the common people were in full support of the veterans and the nation’s politics were ripe for revolt!
It shows you if you leave your veterans behind, the government will eventually have to pay the piper.
Michael Mottern is First Vice-Chair of Social Democrats USA.