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The importance of veterans to us history and future

Conversations In our first conversation, Coming Home: Veterans Readjusting to Civilian Life, our contributors — including veterans, family members of veterans and members of organizations that support veterans — share their own stories, offer insights on the challenges facing returning veterans, and provide tips and resources on the kinds of support that families, friends and communities can offer veterans.

The Past, the Present, and the Future for Veterans written by Arthur Varanelli on December 29, 2009 As I reflect on my own experiences as a veteran, I've begun to wonder how veterans were treated in the past, and what the future will look like for veterans. Understanding the reality of the past can be very difficult.

  • Metal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant Benavidez gave a powerful speech in 1991, in which demonstrated the importance of never giving up and pursuing your dreams regardless of what your obstacles are;
  • Recently, scholars of the war have re-examined Woodrow Wilson's foreign policies, investigated American humanitarian intervention overseas, established the war as a turning point in the long civil rights movement, evaluated the coercive aspects of home-front war culture, considered the role of women during the war years, investigated the battlefield with an eye on the enlisted man's experience, and examined the difficulties of war veterans coming home;
  • Kennedy argues that Wilson increasingly saw a German victory as a threat to America's ability to steer clear of European power politics.

Often texts and accounts of past events become skewed by imperfect recollections, fractured objectivity, or a desire to portray the past "as you like it. Furthermore, many tend to look at the veterans of past wars within the context of the present.

As a result, some people may look at the trials and tribulations of those earlier veterans and think, "it wasn't as bad as all that. I also came upon a piece of curious ephemera: It's interesting that this almanac is partly an appeal to the public for assistance to veterans — by asking them to purchase the almanac from a veteran.

The almanac also contains a chronology of the Civil War, as well as advertisements for medicinal cures. Almanacs were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and they came in many forms.

But why was this particular almanac published?

Why Veterans are important to our nation’s history and future

The Lincoln administration and Congress did a great deal to enhance the benefits offered to veterans and disabled veterans after the Civil War. And over the years, there have been continuous improvements in veterans' assistance, care and benefits. As with many historical records, the content of the site makes for interesting reading, but I'd have to leave the question of how accurate this information might be to those better trained in history forensics than me.

Looking back at the Civil War almanac and the VA website, and thinking about the social context of the time, we might assume the view that veterans in the 19th century were in real distress. Perhaps they were, from our current perspective, but given the context of their time — the state of medicine, the philosophy of care, and the accepted norms of society — it is more than likely that veterans were actually given adequate care and compensation during and after the Civil War.

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But if we review the negative comments about the state of veterans' care and compensation that came up during World War I and World War II, we notice a growing sense of discontentment among veterans.

My own story began over forty years ago in November 1968, when I enlisted in the Army. I eventually found my way to Vietnam in May 1969. Since that time, I have witnessed the knee-jerk reactions of the U. It was almost as if there was real resentment that prevented the public from accepting that these problems actually existed. This is in contrast to World War I, when both the government and the American public seemed to accept the fact that veterans required medical care and compensation to treat the effects of toxic gas weapons, tuberculosis, and "shell shock" mental conditions.

But by the Vietnam era of the 1960s, '70s and '80s, PTSD and the effects of Agent Orange were viewed as the illegitimate children of the veterans of an unpopular war.

Perhaps the public and the government thought that these veterans were just money-grubbing, and that they deserved whatever they got. This kind of peculiar mentality seemed to carry forward with doubts about the Gulf War Syndrome, the effects of depleted uranium exposure, and other maladies that have been reported in recent military campaigns. As I see it, most of the detractors of the newer "service-connected" illnesses may have a distorted view: That is not true.

As most veterans know all too well, combat troops are almost always in constant physical contact with environment, insects, reptiles, mammals big and small, birds, dust, dirt, mud, bacteria, viruses, chemicals and the "by-products" of the combat arms, being exposed to dangers great and small.

A person's immune system can also be weakened by prolonged physical and mental stress, leading to a host of problems not normally associated with "the good life. They consider the findings of these studies an end unto themselves, instead of trying to validate problems that the veterans are experiencing through cause and effect in a science-based way.

  • During World War I the United States broke with its tradition of relying primarily on volunteers and used conscription to raise the bulk of its military force;
  • Keene Understanding World War I is perhaps more important than ever;
  • Keeping Americans "safe from terror" still goes hand in hand with making "the world safe for democracy;
  • But if we review the negative comments about the state of veterans' care and compensation that came up during World War I and World War II, we notice a growing sense of discontentment among veterans;
  • The historical scholarship connects the war to key issues in twentieth-century American history:

I consider Walter Reed, in the photograph to the left, to be the last great epidemiologist. Major Walter Reed, M. Army physician who in 1900 led the team which postulated and confirmed the theory that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes, rather than by direct contact.

This insight gave impetus to the new fields of epidemiology and biomedicine and most immediately allowed the resumption and completion of work on the Panama Canal 1904-14 by the United States.

Walter Reed would turn over in his grave if he knew how far his profession had sunk, and how hieroglyphic-like formulas are misused with reckless abandon in the field of epidemiology.

I have seen all kinds of data manipulations that show the results people want to hear. Against this backdrop of confusion, the veteran must keep on with his or her life while waiting for answers about conditions and compensations that are of great personal concern to him or the importance of veterans to us history and future.

In my 40 years of experience as a veteran, PTSD still draws fire from those who have never experienced the disorder. I have yet to find a veteran diagnosed with PTSD who denies that it exists. Why do we not see this kind of polarized public debate about schizophrenia, depression, or illnesses from chemical and physical agents hidden under the sink?

The good news is that I have also seen a dramatic rise in interest in assisting veterans with their issues — even "controversial" ones. The VA is attempting to streamline its claims processing with a trial program whereby a change to an existing claim does not mean that the claim has to start over, but is picked up mid-stream with less time to acceptance or denial.

But while this is an improvement if it works and is adopted, it is a clue to perhaps some deeper problems within the VA that need addressing. I am also very pleased to see that the general public is taking an interest in troops and new veterans. The psychological support that this gives those of us who serve, or have served, is immeasurable. This interest from the public has been growing since the Gulf War. On the other hand, the public today may not have as much understanding of military combat life as it did in the past; cataclysmic explosions are always dramatic, but crawling through the dirt is not, although it is frequently a real hazard.

In my view, the veteran's past, present, and future, when taken as a flow of events, problems and controversies, is moving in a positive direction. Future veterans will have it "better" because of the increased attention and support, personal and public support, that we give the veterans of today.