Supporting Our Troops?: Veterans Take Care of Their Own and US Too

It is often said that a society can be judged and measured by how well it takes care of its children.

After talking with four veterans, two from the Vietnam war and two from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, we believe we should expand that judgment to include the way in which a society treats the individuals who volunteer to protect the nation and ensure the perpetuation of its ideals. These men and women are our veterans. For us at a2ethics.org, these veterans are role models. They do not claim to be heroes. They were just doing their jobs, and doing them for a cause greater than just themselves. But we as a nation, are not fulfilling our job or our obligations to them.

The fact is that veterans continue to have to fight after they return home for the opportunities that Americans hold so dear. Among them are fair access to affordable education and to health services that match their wartime experiences and their special and continuing care needs.

The veterans we discussed these issues with cross two generations and two very different wars: Gary Lillie and Sandie Wilson of the Vietnam Veterans of America and Derek Blumke and Carl Ireland of Student Veterans of America. Lillie and Wilson have been very influential in focusing attention on veteran health care issues in Michigan and nationally. Blumke is a co-founder and national President of the rapidly growing campus organization called Student Veterans of America and Ireland is the University of Michigan Student Veterans of America campus president.

These veterans are using their skills and talents to help fellow veterans trying to move on with their civilian lives after returning from the common realities of wars today, where distinguishing civilians from the warriors is one of the greatest challenges.

So, we issue an ethics challenge today, the day after the election: why should veterans bear the burden of duties that we owe to them? Veterans protect our rights to be individuals. Shouldn't we in turn protect their rights to be individuals when they return home?

After listening to this podcast, join a greater cause: you can contact these fine individuals and get involved in assisting their organizations:

Derek Blumke, Co-founder, Student Veterans of America: [email protected] or www.studentveterans.org

Carl Ireland, President, University of Michigan Student Veterans of America: [email protected] or www.studentveterans.org

Gary Lillie, Veterans Radio or Vietnam Veterans of America: www.veteransradio.net

Sandie Wilson, Vietnam Veterans of America: www.vva.org