Wednesday we saw two presidential candidates discuss national security without ever mentioning the word “peace.” We were pleased to see that topics such as deported veterans, sexual assault in the military, veterans suffering from PTSD and the alarming rates of veterans committing suicide were discussed. We applaud creating a space for veterans to ask questions of their potential Commander-In-Chief.
Veterans For Peace, however, continues to be dismayed that conversations about national security never include discussions of peace. As a community of veterans, military families and friends, many of us know the pain of losing a loved one to the violence of war and military conflicts.
“Our membership is made up of veterans from every military conflict this country has engaged in over the last 70 years,” said Barry Ladendorf, a former Naval officer and President of Veterans For Peace. “We are all too familiar with the after effects of war on veterans, and we were pleased to have these concerns included in the presidential town hall. However, until discussions of national security are centered around peace and NOT military escalation, we will continue to be afflicted with these devastating effects.”
Presidential candidates continue to call for more drone strikes, more bombing, and more weapons to be sent to humanitarian crises caused by war, like the human tragedy in Syria. Both candidates support keeping U.S. troops on the ground in these war zones – supposedly in support of others who doing the fighting. This is the very brew that has accelerated the pace of ever escalating violence.
The reality is that neither Republicans nor Democrats will admit that:
- The Veterans Health Administration system is overwhelmed with veterans spanning World War II to the current global war. The U.S. is constantly at war, ensuring untold numbers of veterans will need care. To most effectively address veteran’s healthcare, we need to finally put an end to the endless warfare, and stop the continuous flow of physically and mentally wounded veterans into the system.
- We are already deporting U.S. military veterans, from the Vietnam era to the current global wars. Many of these women and men were children when their parents brought them to the U.S. They know little if anything about the countries to which they have been deported. Some had no idea they were not U.S. citizens, because military recruiters told them they would automatically become U.S. citizens when they joined the military.
- Military leaders and apparently the major party candidates will not take the necessary action to combat military sexual trauma – the epidemic of rape and sexual harassment. They dismiss efforts to remove investigation and due process from the command structure, saying that would undermine command authority and readiness. But command authority and unit morale is already deeply undermined by the lack of accountability for perpetrators of sexual assault, and the uncertainty and fear faced by the thousands of men and women victims.
Veterans For Peace calls on the Presidential candidates to recognize that more war is not the answer. The war on terror is itself terrorism. Invasions, bombing and killing have not worked. Violence only begets more violence. It is clearly time for a new way.
There is no accountability in Washington, D.C. – from Democrats or Republicans – to end the failed policy of endless war, nor to stop the wasteful spending that starves our nation of precious resources needed for job creation, education, healthcare and all the investment in people we need for a peaceful and prosperous society.
As veterans who are concerned about the future of our country and the world, we demand a change. Our political leaders need to tell us how they will bring peace, not more war. Hopefully these issues will be more fully explored in the upcoming presidential debates.