There’s little question that the majority of people consider those who join the military to be heroes.
Millions will click a “like” button on Facebook or elsewhere to declare that they “Support the troops“, probably on the basis that they “defend are freedoms” or some other similarly grammatically and logically questionable sentiment. The media lays down a constant barrage of hero worship, making it very clear to one and all that regardless of your low social status, dubious personal characteristics or lack of educational achievement, the nation will adore and respect you if you would just sign up to go abroad to shoot brown people.
It must come as a shock then, when returning from active duty and finally leaving the military “are heros” discover the reality.
Almost one veteran an hour commits suicide in the United States, although the actual figures may be even higher because deaths are under-reported and no national register is kept. There is help available to physically and mentally damaged veterans, but access is slow, and the service provided can be poor, as Air Force veteran Robin Temple alleges, with little or no legal recourse if things go wrong.
A third of all homeless people living on the streets on any particular day are veterans, sun, rain, sleet or snow, with as many as 800,000 experiencing homelessness at some point during any given year.
As tragic as this situation undoubtedly is, providing more help for veterans would cost money and let’s face it, US taxpayers didn’t spend trillions of dollars sending hundreds of thousands of troops to 800 military bases in over 60 different countries around the world at a cost of almost $1,000 per US citizen, just to then adopt a socialist “big government” system to support them on their return. Hell no!
Dead heroes, on the other hand, are far less troublesome.
Besides giving them a decent send off with all the appropriate fan-fare, and mowing the grass over their graves, they require very little to no further support. Their images are frozen in time, never ageing, untarnished human monuments to the glory of war.
They don’t wake up screaming in the night having re-lived being blown up by an IED, or shooting some young boy in Fallujah on the off chance that he might be an insurgent.
They don’t hang around the families they once were part of, in an estranged and distant reverie of haunting memories and psychoactive drugs.
They don’t shoot their families, and then themselves, and neither do they embarrass their government and leaders by making statements, videos, confessions to congress, or go on protests against the wars the government wants you to support, or stand up against the domestic militarized police force when they use excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, or worse, get injured by them.
All things considered, if you really want to be a hero, it’s far better to come home dead.