Empty Platitudes

I’m going to have more to say about the VA Hospital debacle on my “Pat Political Point” during this Sunday’s First Day show on WSGW, but I wanted to highlight a few passages from this Andrew Heller column on how we should put our money where our mouths are when it comes to military veterans, cops, firefighters, and yes, teachers:

We’re very interested, though, in a never-ending stream of tear-inducing stories about them, their adventures. and their families.

Surely, you’ve noticed. Ever since 9/11, the Afghan and Iraq wars and the school shootings, TV has taken it upon itself to make sure we adulate people in the aforementioned professions. In shows, commercials and newscasts, teachers are great, cops are great, firefighters are great. And active military and veterans? Why, they’€™re the greatest of the great. We love ‘€˜em! Can€’t get enough of ’em! Go, America!

There€’s nothing wrong with that, of course. These people deserve credit for what they do because what they do is vital to our way of life.

And yet … doesn’€™t it seem over the top when it’s not coupled with actual support? It’€™s almost as if we’re aware on some level that we, as a society don’t treat them very well so the least we can do is throw rose petals.

I experienced the same feelings when I attended a baseball game last summer in Cincinnati.  The game was suddenly interrupted so we could all stand-up and applaud a couple of Iraqi and Afghanistan War veterans who appeared on the jumbo-screen.  After the sold-out crowd cheered to show their support for these veterans, we all sat back down and enjoyed the game.

I recall telling my friend–an Army vet–how that display of affection seemed hollow to me.  Instead of cheering, or tying a yellow ribbon, how about we actually follow through with our promise to take care of these people for their physical and mental maladies.  On top of that, how about we (1) don’t send our military to fight wars based on misleading claims and evidence, and (2) if we do send our military to wars based on misleading claims and evidence, we actually provide them with the proper armor and equipment needed to stay alive!  Let’s not forget how we were promised the Iraq War would “pay for itself.”

Not only have we let our military men and women down by sending them to fight in Iraq, but we failed to plan for the influx of patients in the VA system!  Worse yet, we failed to fix the administrative mess we’re learning about now.

Heller correctly includes police, firefighters and teachers with military vets in the empty promises group.  We fail to pay our first responders what they deserve.  We also fail to show the respect teachers richly deserve for educating the youth in this country–youths who eventually become cops, firefighters and military personnel.  Let’s not forget teachers have been on the front lines in recent years with school shootings.  That’s why I like to shake the hand of a teacher for their service, too.

It’s time we quit the hollow celebrations and actually do something!

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