Thank you, President Obama, for hope.
Thanks for reminding this country, all through your State of the Union speech last night, that the troops are coming home. Most of them, anyway.
Thanks for reminding us that more than one million have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and “thousands gave their lives.”
Almost 5,000, actually. (Current Pentagon estimate.)
Thanks for reminding us of their sacrifice, and for reminding the rest of us that we must sacrifice to help them return.
For some, the return is more harrowing than fighting overseas, when — as you reminded us last night — they worked as a team, for common purpose.
I don’t have to believe in war to know that we all benefit from that sacrifice. I don’t have to be a political supporter either. (I don’t have a vote here — yet — just to self-disclose.)
As you noted last night, these brave women and men need help with college, jobs, ongoing medical care and rehabilitation.
Just like the aftermath of World War II, we have a shared responsibility (your words, thank you so much) in this post-Iraq era to care for our veterans, to help them heal after all the horrible work that we, the people, asked them to do for us, while we stayed at home, in peace and, notably for some, prosperity.
No American president can keep his job and speak in public of the real costs ahead, the mental health expenses (for which, sadly, there is not enough, or no care), the years and years and years of physical and mental rehabilitation for American troops. Even without another day of combat.
No American president or any candidate in this ultra-sensitive campaign year dare mention the real costs of war. They don’t dare tell us the actual number of wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, or seriously discuss the future of more than 300,000 soldiers, with diagnosed traumatic brain injuries.
So, thank you for this start. Thanks for reminding us that this is the first time in 9 years that we have not been at war in Iraq. I’ve lived here for the past 7 years, so I am deeply grateful that combat troops have left, and that the Arab Spring surges, still.
Thanks for using your State of the Union speech to remind listeners — at home and in other countries — of the staggering costs of war.
This generation of leaders, especially amid a toxic election campaign, dare not use the language of Quakers, and speak of a “peace dividend.”
But you did, President Obama, you did.
I heard it. I heard you speak about taking the money America is saving from war (more than $1 trillion, although you didn’t cite it), and propose spending half on paying down the debt and half for nation-building — this nation.
It’s not enough, but it’s a strong start when the country needs true leadership, and responsible use of all our resources, for peace and regrowth.
“Our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it,” you said, closing your speech with another tribute.
You proposed a Veterans’ Jobs Corps, at least for police and firefighting (jobs lost due to tax reductions). You proposed tax credits for companies hiring veterans (I assume this means better tax breaks than exist already for vet-hiring?); you supported the GI Bill.
As a rehabilitation counselor, I’ve seen the GI Bill restore hope, Mr. President. Not just for the war-battered veteran with multiple “tours” (as if they were holidays) in Iraq and Afghanistan, but for the people who love them — their parents, spouses, and children. I’ve seen hope restored for the greater community, hoping for communal good.
I’ve seen training funds help veterans retrain, regain skills and confidence, and return to some semblance of productive, healthy life.
You used a lot of “re” words in your speech, Mr. President.
Just wanted to express my appreciation for that hope.
It’s up to the rest of us to share that hope, to share our resources to restore the health of American veterans, and to share responsibility for returning them to their families and communities, so that we can all be productive and prosperous.
That’s a lot of sharing. Is it possible in an age of cynicism and miserly selfishness?
I believe it is, and I’m grateful for a president whose words are aimed above the greed and current meanness.
Thank you, President Obama.