On March 19, Watertown Times City Editor Perry White published his op-ed article, Afghanistan: Americas Hubris and Folly. Some members of the north country chapter of Veterans For Peace wrote Mr. White to thank him for his honesty and courage. We agreed with him that Afghanistan is not worth another American life. With Fort Drum annually injecting over $1.5 billion into the areas economy, we and Mr. White will likely hear that we dont support our troops. Really?
Driving a vanload of patients every week to the Syracuse Veterans Affairs hospital, I see up close several generations of fellow vets bearing the effects of conflicts both ongoing and lost to history. So many need help to reach the care they deserve, but cant afford the travel costs. A nation that cant give its veterans the care they need, needs to stop making more veterans.
Veterans For Peace spent two semesters at Jefferson Community College telling students who are active-duty, recent vets and Army family about our local website, nc-vfp. There were 4,423 hits on our websites links to VA benefit websites, businesses offering GI/vet discounts, information on how to report defective body armor and facts about depleted uranium (the new Agent Orange). House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Bill Owens helped us restore college funding for 160 JCC military spouse students.
Rep. Owens and Channel 7 helped us get 87,000 stop-lossed troops an extra year to apply for their back pay. WWNY-TV also worked with us to publicize Guard and Reserve re-employment rights and expose a faulty Pentagon study on toxic battlefield dust. We support our troops, but not the politicians and generals who send them to die so far from home 293 Fort Drum troops and other locals killed so far.
Is war our only expression of patriotism? The current generation of schoolchildren has been shown little else. Can we honor the warrior but not the war, love firefighters but hate the fires that kill them? Warrior-General Dwight Eisenhower said, I think people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it. Now, please? Lets welcome our troops home now and take care of them.
Roland Van Deusen