We need to better serve our veterans

To the editor:

I wrote a letter to the editor last year in appeal for support for some of President Obama’s Feb. 3, 2012 veterans job creation proposals to Congress. He then called for employment of veterans as firefighters, first responders and in a 20,000 Veterans Job Corps to maintain our National Parks and to build and repair bridges, roads and other infrastructure. General Odiorno, then Army Chief of staff, had told us that we had never before had to send our troops back into battle six, seven or more times and counting, “The growing toll of death, disability and despair of those affected” he said, “had never been so great.” Hopes for them ever starting careers as veteran civilians were fading for want of opportunity. The veteran suicide rate then was 18 a day.

A Ledger-Transcript reader of Tea Party persuasion saw my letter and felt the need to enlighten me. These jobs would be in the public sector and increase national debt. As such, they could not be considered. Never mind the importance of investing in veterans for the value their work could contribute to accelerating economic recovery, the cost of inflation in delaying infrastructure repair, the respect and gratitude these men, women and their lives deserved.

The Tea Party does not deserve all of the blame for our failure to support our veterans as they deserved. There is enough to go around, but we could not have disserved them as shamefully as we have without the Tea Party, its dedicated obstruction of the President’s job creation proposals and their bizarre perception that an endless sequence of cuts somehow leads to a positive outcome.

What counts is return on investment in rebuilding our economy whether jobs created are public or private. How many billions of 2014 tax revenue dollars expected to be lost by tax fraud and avoidance because the IRS lacks staff to carefully check returns, could be saved if a few thousand veterans could be added to the IRS payroll and trained to stop it? More investment in our veterans was and still is called for.

The veterans suicide rate has now increased to 22 a day. This is the measure of shame we should feel today. There are stories of veteran abuse to tell in the aftermath of other wars, but this time it is our shame. I hope to be able join the parade on Veterans Day. I plan to march for those who served but gave up waiting for us to serve them better, just as I will for others who served.

John F. Vance


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