On Flag Day, my wife and I went to a great concert - Gary Sinise and The Lieutenant Dan Band. The concert was hosted by The Hotel del Coronado, and the stage was literally on the beach. Food, drink, our toes in the sand, a suntan, great fun, and excellent music. Genres including Country, disco, Rock, Pop, Swing, and more -- ranging from the 40s to present day. And yes, I could not live with myself if I capitalized "disco."
We were both extremely entertained, and if you ever have the opportunity to see the band perform, I highly recommend you avail yourself and go.
Beforehand, we were fortunate to meet Mr. Sinise and have our photo taken with him. In the event you are unaware, Mr. Sinise is a prominent Hollywood actor who has starred in a number of very famous films.
After meeting Mr. Sinise, my sense of the man is that he is extremely honorable - the real deal. He and his fellow bandmates are using his Hollywood cachet and their considerable talents to raise money for his foundation - the Gary Sinise Foundation. The foundation raises money to "serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need." It is a very noble endeavor and I applaud Mr. Sinise for all his incredible work. Please donate to the foundation if you are able.
However, his foundation, and the hundreds just like it that serve our veterans, should not exist.
The abysmal truth of our recent wars is that twenty-two combat veterans commit suicide in America every day. Tens of thousands of troops have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq with terrible wounds sustained during battles, and thousands died, leaving their families to move on without them. Thousands of others returned with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or similar psychological traumas which require treatment.
The equally appalling reality is that these nonprofit organizations would not exist if not for our government's inability to provide proper care and timely treatment to our returning veterans. If the government fulfilled all the medical, psychology, and financial needs of the veterans, the foundations and nonprofits would be entirely unnecessary.Our veterans provide the veil of freedom we enjoy -- protecting our liberties. In many cases, they have guaranteed the same freedoms for many of our allies, and for many nations and peoples less fortunate than we Americans. They sacrifice so much, ask for so little in return, and our government disgracefully does not take adequate care of them.
It is a terrible indictment on society that we do not demand our government take proper care of our veterans. Each veteran should receive the best achievable care -- no limit; no delays. In addition to the medical care, spouses should be compensated for lost income. They should receive government paid housing. The children of veterans who are injured or killed should automatically receive free college educations or grants to technical and/or trade schools.
Thank you Gary Sinise and all the other people who have dedicated so much to ease the pain and suffering of veterans and their families. It is a proven statistic that Americans are the most charitable and philanthropic people on Earth. However, these benevolent aid organizations are providing services to vets that our government, our taxes, and all 315 million Americans should collectively give without reservation.
Members of Congress make hundreds of thousands in compensation each year. They have office budgets in the multi-millions of dollars. Bureaucrats' salaries are, on average, many times greater than soldiers (not including bonuses).
In some cases, veterans are dying waiting for care while public outrage is in short supply. In 2013 and 2014, many veterans died waiting for care in the Phoenix VA system. Their deaths were covered up by VA bureaucrats in order to make their operational statistics look better - so they could earn their bonuses. Secret care lists were developed that kept patients' care requests off the legitimate care lists. Veterans died or were languishing while bureaucrats gamed the system. Evil is the only word that comes to mind.
Shame on us for not demanding that combat veterans have priority care. America should supply the best possible treatment for our wounded veterans and their families. It is time we honor our commitment to our veterans and their families in a manner consistent with our stated beliefs. Why should a congressman receive immediate medical care for a hangnail while a veteran, who sustained a combat injury in some awful hell-hole, has to wait for treatment, or rely on any private entity for the assistance he or she requires physically, emotionally, and financially?
Will we Americans truly live up to our words and honor their sacrifices to our country, or continue to give it lip service?