I like that we have a veteran’s day holiday. It’s the perfect time to post and reshare facebook memes supporting the troops. Outside of cyberspace, billboards, bumper stickers, and license plates proclaiming to one and all that someone supports the troops. In fact, the entire car area does nothing to further my support for soldiers. Veteran’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday, mainly because lounging around, cleaning the gutters, raking the leaves and whatever else people with a federal holiday might do in the late fall, isn’t really effective troop support. But maybe I’m wrong. I don’t share the facebook memes, and I don’t wear the support the troops T-shirts and I don’t have any bumper stickers at all let alone a ‘support the troops’ one. I don’t even really shop at the stores with great big banners proclaiming their support for soldiers to everyone who might want to buy stuff. I don’t even put a dollar in the cup of homeless vets who are sure to be out in force today.
However, there are things I do that could possibly be considered support. The top two on my list are: I write letters, and I vote. I support the troops by making sure that oversight and benefits don’t get cut, and that the VA does an effective job. I support the various GI bills that provide education, housing, and transition for soldiers. I support legislation and changes to the military hierarchy to ensure that soldiers don’t get raped or sexually harassed. I support efforts to ensure that each soldier can believe in any religion or none without feeling pressure from other religious groups. Speaking of dogmatic religious persecution, I support gay soldiers who have a right to live and love just as their straight compatriots. I support social services because no soldier comes back from the frontlines unwounded. I know some of our civilian social workers and if you think they’re not in the trenches with our soldiers you would be wrong. Our civilian support staff are underpaid, over worked, and very much abused but quietly and professionally they really DO support the troops especially when no one else will or can. I support funding for a vibrant public schools so the children of our soldiers can get a world class education. I support funding for research and technology because that’s where solutions are found. I support spending on infrastructure and health care because if you’re going to fight and die or something it should be awesome. Perhaps most importantly I vote for leaders who understand that the best way to support soldiers are to leave them at home. That violence is the very last resort and it perpetuates a cycle of violence. Sometimes there are no good solutions, or clear unambiguous goals and we owe it to the men and women who’ll fight and die to tread very carefully and maybe not at all. Finally, I owe it to the troops to exercise my freedoms responsibly. That word ‘responsibly’ is going to be a hard one for a lot of people but you can’t have freedom with out it and that is, at the end of the day, what we’re all fighting for.