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Military statistics show a troubling trend

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On Jan. 9, local members of Veterans For Peace were encouraged by a Watertown Times editorial: “... It is time to bring the troops home as quickly and safely as possible ...”, something we’ve been advocating for years. Of course, the same day, the paper reported 3,000 more Fort Drum troops would soon leave for Afghanistan. The Feb. 1 Times covered another 2,200-troop Drum unit headed for its fifth combat tour. The opening of combat roles to women is a reflection of our desperate need for more cannon fodder in our 12th year of war.

We’ll see whether our president keeps his recent inaugural promise to end “perpetual war” during his second term. He’s let us down before. For each of those 5,200 Drum troops, so many more lives can be adversely affected.

Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and its Institute for Veterans and Military Families recently sounded grave warnings in Maxwell Perspective: “The support and care of veterans and military families is a national security imperative if the U.S. is to maintain an all-volunteer force.” “In the past, most people who served were young, single men. Now there are more military families. There are more dependents of military personnel today than there are military personnel.”

Furthermore, “... a comparatively high proportion of disabled veteran households live below the poverty threshold and experience real material hardships.” “People assume that Veterans Administration programs are adequate to support veterans who are unable to work because of disability ... the research suggests this is not so ...”

With 650,000 post-traumatic stress disorder cases and traumatic brain injuries six wartime years ago, 50,000—plus medical wounds, etc., we may see another million disabled veteran family households fall into poverty within the decade. A shameful stain upon our nation. And a threat to our national security if we expect the next generation to protect us.

Roland Van Deusen

Clayton

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