My main criticism is directed at Washington. Individual soldiers– whatever their motivations are or are not– are disposable pawns for the political elite in DC. It is tragic to see so many lives, families, and communities destroyed because of greed and deceit. Twenty two American veterans commit suicide every day (CNN 2015). Many of these soldiers– the ones who survive– come home and are changed forever; they abuse their wives, become addicted to drugs, and have all sorts of problems– it’s a nightmare for them and their families. As everyone knows, a lot of vets end up living on the street.
They didn’t become that way because they were overseas handing out chocolates to little kids and liberating people. No, they were committing atrocities or witnessing their fellow soldiers carry out barbaric acts. That all gets scrubbed clean with a nice cliche like “thank you for your service” or “fighting for freedom.”
It is easy to say, “thank you for your service.” The greatest service one can give to a young man or woman who has joined the military is to struggle to ensure they are never used for acts of aggression, as a tool for corporate profit-making, or in service of a foreign government’s criminal strategic objectives.