Politicians in both parties are constantly waving the flag over the dead and wounded bodies of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, boasting about the “outstanding job” they’re doing, after having been put “in harm’s way” by the ruling class’s vicious imperialist war for control of Mid-East oil.
These vets are workers, so the “harm’s way” doesn’t stop when they return — IF they return — to be attacked by a capitalist class which forces workers to pay even more for their economic meltdown and wars.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ, 3/25) and the Boston Globe report surging joblessness, low wages, inadequate and denial of medical treatment and huge homelessness.
The military paper “Stars and Stripes” cited a U.S. Veterans Affairs Dept. study reporting 18% of veterans being jobless.
One quarter of all vets are earning less than $21,840 per year.
The WSJ wrote, “The [above] report found that most of the returning veterans were unable to find civilian jobs that matched their previous military occupations.” So much for the recruiters’ promises of joining the army and “learning a skill.”
The Military.com website released a survey showing 81% of discharged vets did not “feel fully prepared… [to] enter the job market.” According to Black Veterans for Social Justice, “Typically…young adults who go into the military at 17 or 18, when they return home, the same kind of economic conditions that forced them [to enlist] …still exist or have gotten worse.” (OneWorld News service, Nov. 2007) And that’s what the still-to-be-passed DREAM Act (supported by the liberals and the Pentagon) has in store for immigrant youth who join the military if they come home alive — an economy of rising unemployment, sinking wages and racism on all fronts especially affecting black, Latino and immigrant youth. Talk about “harm’s way”!
To make job matters worse, the percentage of amputees is the highest since the U.S. Civil War. Up to 36% of the 1.5 million veterans of the current wars are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — an astounding half a million patients! Outstanding claims by vets rose from 254,000 to 378,000 between 2003 and 2006. Average waiting time for treatment is 183 days.
Is it any wonder that 1,784 returning vets committed suicide in 2005 alone?
Finally, “194,254… [are] homeless…on any given night.” (Boston Globe, quoting The Alliance to End Homelessness)
These are the fruits of imperialist war. The bosses send youth off to oil-rich lands to kill other youth, and workers — over a million in Iraq — only to send 4,000 back (plus 500 from the Afghan war) in body bags and tens of thousands suffering amputated arms and legs, brains shattered by explosions and post-traumatic stress, racist police terror, jobless or earning poverty wages and living on the streets.
However, working-class youth will continue to join the military, and eventually millions will be forced into the armed forces when the rulers bring back some form of the draft to wage their wider wars against their imperialist rivals
So organizing for revolution among soldiers and vets, not voting for these bosses’ hypocritical, disgusting politicians, is the road to follow.
U.S. WAR CASUALTIES: 655,000 AND RISING
An April 17 RAND Corporation study as detailed in “CounterPunch Diary” (5/2) by Alexander Cockburn, reports that, “The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have thus far produced 300,000 psychological casualties, 320,000 brain injury casualties, plus 35,000 (probably understated) officially reported ‘normal’ casualties. This adds up to 655,000 US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, and average of just under 101,000 Americans killed or wounded every year since the wars began.” This excludes the million Iraqi; dead from U.S. imperialism’s invasion. Talk about blood for oil!