From a Mom on Veterans Day

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and many thoughts are racing through my mind. You’d think after having a son in the military for over 20 years and he being currently deployed to the Persian Gulf  (and that’s after five previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan),  that I would be a little jaded right now about Veterans Day. In some ways I am. Military families are worn out from 16 years of war.

We currently have over 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, and who knows how many in Iraq/Syria today.  I’ve seen data stating between Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, we could have over 12,000 troops.  As Secretary Mattis adds even more troops to the African continent, I try to contain my thoughts that wonder what is the real threat to the U.S. from Africa? I try to contain control these thoughts because our troops are stationed in too many places right now and for way too long. I just can’t wrap my head around that right now.

Just last month, Iraq’s government was debating whether or not they should ask the US to stay- update pending on that. A civil war between Kurds and Iraq’s central government is escalating, partially due to a new law that limits who can export oil, (businesses hold a monopoly on oil and the government could stop the oil flow in northern Iraq that is under Kurdish control).

Yes, something more frightening is brewing on the horizon and we all know it. The topic of nuclear war with Korea is tossed about like a bargaining chip and it scares the hell out of all of us- no one more than military families. Not even our troops are as scared as we are. We have the benefit of the long view.  We already witnessed the tragic crumbling of any diplomatic efforts after 9-11 and suffered though unspeakable losses and destruction when President Bush concocted a war in Iraq and Afghanistan and locked us into endless war. Now any diplomatic efforts are in the hands of an even a greater war monger. Even if the president’s own appointed Secretary of State dares to tone down President Trump’s dangerous and threatening language, President Trump is quick to undercut him in a moment of rage. So we feel the déjà vu.  Military families know the stench of impending war like no one else.

Hopefully, my son will be home soon. I pray that this will be his last deployment and for that wonderful day when all of our loved ones will return home for good.  I know I am luckier than so many of my Gold Star brothers and sisters. I also know the outcome won’t be a simple welcome home and we’re all good now. After after, all we do live in the Los Angeles area, the home of the largest homeless veteran population in the nation and there’s no getting away from the nightmarish fact that 21 veterans die by suicide daily and one active duty service member every day.  It’s always on my mind, but I just want him home now.

Back to Veteran’s Day. I am pestered by my inner voice of reason that keeps asking me, “Why we celebrate Veterans Day anyway?  Why was it changed from Armistice Day in 1952- a day celebrating peace and the end of World War I?”  Everyone says it’s to honor all veterans instead of just veterans from that era and theater. I’m having serious trouble with that rationale as I begrudgingly get ready to march in our local Veterans Day Parade . There’s going to be a whole lot of glorifying of war, and kids under 12 will be twirling fake rifles like batons. And oh, yeah, funnel cake.

 

Next year will mark the 100th year of Armistice Day. Let’s try to remember all of our loved ones on this day and that they are still fighting in a war that never should have happened in the first place. Let’s remember their needs are many, but we as a nation cannot give them our full attention that could help them heal until all of them are home safe and we are not creating more veterans in need of our care. So let’s take a moment tomorrow and consider how we can really help our veterans. Let’s bring them home now.

Veterans For Peace has a good article on Armistice Day at https://www.veteransforpeace.org/take-action/armistice-day/

Pat Alviso

Military Families Speak Out-Mom

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