Supporting our troops has to mean more than mouthing the words. It has to mean more than waving a flag, and it has to mean more than feeling good about the military. Feelings are nice, but for too long all Americans have been called upon to do in this war is to feel.
Americans should be called upon to act, to remedy shortcomings in veterans’ health care and raise military pay, to make sure that those who fight for us abroad won’t be helpless at home, won’t be jobless and even homeless, their sacrifices shoved aside.
The troops who come home from war should be greeted with parades, yes, but they should also be greeted with doctors and nurses, with promises of support that are backed up by more than just yellow ribbon decals.
The congressional investigations and administrative panel inquiries into how such scandalously substandard conditions came to be are a good start, but those examinations must be followed up with action.
If our armed forces are to continue to fight in Iraq and elsewhere — and this president seems determined to make it so — then we must ensure that that fight is underpinned by assurances for those actually doing the fighting.
Assurances that they will come home not just to gratitude but to assistance, not just to adulation but to a country’s care. If we cannot feed and house and nurse and truly support all our veterans, then we have work to do here at home before we send them anywhere else.
Any further permission for troops to engage in combat should be considered in light of the amount of resources to be devoted to actually handling the consequences of that combat. Anything less is unfair to the troops we’ve been slapping all those stickers on our cars to support.
So, seriously, which casual Republican sacred cow should I aim at next week?
(Nothing stirs up the crazy like saying buying a magnet isn’t enough of a sacrifice.)