Memorial Day is set aside to remember and honor those who gave the “last full measure of devotion” while serving this country as a member of the armed forces.
Sometimes I wonder, however, whether the nation should consider an expansion of what it means to give the “last full measure.” Advances in medical treatment and care coupled with the associated progress in medical technology, now extends life for many service members injured in action who in previous years and wars, might have yielded to that “last full measure.” And, what of those who’s emotional damage is so severe it has rendered them as broken in mind as those whose bodies were mangled and twisted on the fields of battle?
In addition, it is estimated an average 20 veterans per day commitment suicide and you can add to that, another 2.2 active duty military personnel each day, who also feel compelled to their own lives. Did they not give their last full measure?
As Americans, we boldly profess our love, gratitude and appreciation for those who served and continue to serve to secure the comforts we enjoy here at home; and yet, far too often this nation’s love for its veterans seems conditional.
I say conditional because it is too easy for many Americans to walk past a homeless veteran on the street and not even glance in his or her direction. It seems conditional when others will rally in opposition to building a housing complex in their neighborhood to provide shelter to homeless veterans—”not in my back yard,” they proclaim; and yet in 2017, 40,000 of the nation’s veterans were homeless. It seems conditional when some politicians would even deny veterans access to food subsidies, and yet nearly 1.5 million low-income veterans lived in households that depended on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for food in 2017.
Even our president’s professed love for veterans at times, has appeared disingenuous. Otherwise, how could he so brashly ridicule one of the nation’s most honored veterans, prisoner of war hero, John McCain. Or, consider how the president so unapologetically disrespected a Gold Star mother with unabashed impunity.
I understand to some readers it may appear as if I have conflated Memorial Day, the day set aside to remember the men and women who died in the service of this country with Veterans Day, which is set aside to honor every veteran and active duty member of the military—I guess, maybe I am.
I believe whether we are remembering those who died in service or are honoring all who have and/or continue to serve, our gratitude should be unparalleled.
Whether it is assuring veterans have access to quality mental and physical health care, opportunities for full employment, descent housing, food subsidies or caring for the families they left behind, veterans served this country without conditions. The debt we owe them can never be repaid and should be as unconditional.
This is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.