Glad to see all the troops coming home, now that the war in Iraq is officially over.. However in a world with No Jobs, Increased Foreclosures & lawmakers pushing to make even more cuts while telling those who’ve fallen on economic hard times to ‘blame themselves‘, do these returning men and women who did 4 & 5 tours of duty, become police officers, FBI and ICE agents who enforce the status quo and crush those who challenge it, or do they follow the steps of those who see the inequalities in our society and fight for change?
One needs to bear in mind, that a sizeable number of people who joined our military did so because of what we call the economic draft.. Poverty and the inability to find jobs was impacting many in our communities long before an Occupy Movement or the notion of a 1% vs 99% emerged. The military heavily recruited desperate folks from our neighborhoods promising folks a new lease on life and the opportunity to establish some sort of economic foothold. Commercials greeted us daily with the slogan, Be All That You Can Be.. Many never dreamt they would see the horrors of war and be required to return to the battlefield over and over again..
The psychological impact of all that combat alone should be of grave concern..All of us should be asking about what sort of measures are being put in place for returning vets to detox? How will returning vets deal with PTS (Post Traumatic Stress)?
We already have huge population of vets who are out on the streets homeless, unable to re-adjust to society.. How are we handling them?
We also have not acknowledged that the suicide rate of vets has damn near outpaced those killed in combat.. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a whooping 18 suicides per day among soldiers.
As I asked earlier, how will these returning soldiers react when they come home to see that we spent trillions to liberate Iraq while grandma, auntie and mother are living in communities where the poverty rate is at record highs and homes they once owned have been foreclosed on with no jobs in sight?
Will these returning vets see themselves as part of a struggling community and seek to align themselves with those pushing for change or will they spiral into the ruthlessness we seen demonstrated in places like Egypt where we have folks fighting for freedom and democracy while a standing army that we pay for with American tax dollars are pulling out all the stops to brutally suppress them?
Will we see more soldiers who are of the caliber demonstrated by the Iraq Veterans Against the War or will we see soldiers who are of the caliber demonstrated by those who embraced and carried out the horrific torture techniques we seen demonstrated at places like Abu Ghraib? Even more troubling will find returning vets desperate for work and eager for some sort of stability being recruited by rich and powerful corporate executes to serve as a literal private army of sorts?
A couple of years ago I penned an article predicting that as the economy spirals out of control the new middle class (meaning those with jobs) will be cops and soldiers hired & paid handsomely to be a buffer between those who are poor and those we now identify as the 1%.
If one thinks this is far-fetched, I urge folks to talk to victims of Katrina who experienced first hand what it was like when they encountered private armies like Blackwater patrolling the streets of New Orleans, rebuffing those seeking refuge from dry and resource filled hotels and other facilities.
History shows that once upon a time African-American soldiers returning from World Wars 1 & 2, realized that the situation at home was dire especially along racial lines. The freedoms they fought for overseas in Europe were not afforded to many of us here at home who suffered under harsh Jim Crow laws. Many became disenchanted and pressed the issue. They demanded equality.
One of those returning soldiers was Civil Rights icon Harry Belafonte who recently spoke at First Congregation Church in Berkeley who spoke about what it was like for those returning from war after they tasted freedom. He noted that as many started to ask alot of questions about equal rights, the oppression toward them and us was substantially increased..
Belafonte talked about how lynchings and racial terror increased all over the country as society made attempts to put returning Black soldiers back in their place. Many did not take to the suppression lightly and at various points there were armed resistence and struggle. This inequality and subsequent repression also gave rise to the Civil Rights Movements and Black Freedom struggles..of the 60s and 70s.
My question is how will our returning brethren behave in 2011 when they return to this massive economic inequality?
written by Davey D