The Best Way to Appreciate Our Veterans.

What we can do to show our appreciation for the sacrifice our young men and women have made.

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Photo via The White House on Instagram

Across the nation as a whole, Veterans Day is widely treated as and considered a day of reflection, and of course appreciation for the service of the men and women who have made the decision to put their bodies on the line in service to their country. While the broader conversation surrounding U.S. foreign policy is absolutely necessary and important, there are aspects of it that sometimes get overlooked.

In a nation that puts such a profound emphasis on its military might, all too often many of us forget to consider what it is that the United States empire does to and asks of these young men and women.

In relation to Saudi Arabia for example, the United States has sent thousands of troops there to defend another country’s oil fields, with the sole intention of protecting the interest of United States oil companies. Unfortunately, another way of looking at it would be we’re using America’s often working class and poor young people as pawns on a geopolitical chessboard, asking them to put their bodies on the line to defend the interests of those who likely would never be brave enough to defend it themselves.

The United States empire has done a brilliant job of marketing its military to those who might not have a lot of other options, and sells itself as the key to opportunity that many of our servicemen and women may not have otherwise had. As much as I thoroughly despise the United States military, I care deeply about the people who I believe have enlisted with the purest of intentions and who most likely saw it as their best options to ensure their future has a solid foundation.

Veterans Day of course has me reflecting on what happens to our soldiers when they come home, and the best way we can acknowledge the years of their lives they have sacrificed. Years that leave so many of them with physical and emotional scars that they will be living with for the rest of their lives. It sickens me to say that even today, so many of our veterans go without the bare minimum.

It should go without saying that the best way to appreciate and acknowledge our veterans would be to guarantee that each and every one of them are given the proper resources to heal and recover if they need it. One of the grossest atrocities this country can commit against its own people is to send them abroad to fight a senseless war, and then bring them home only to allow them to slip through the cracks if their mental or physical health has suffered as a result.

In the context of U.S. foreign policy, my fight is not with the nineteen year old overseas who enlisted straight out of high school because he wanted a chance to get a better future for himself and a future family once his enlistment was up. My fight is not with the 23 year old who enlisted because the military will pay for them to become a doctor, and it isn’t with a teenage girl who signed up because she couldn’t afford to get a degree in engineering any other way. The best way to appreciate our Veterans is not to idealize them, but above all recognize their humanity and the realities of the complexities of what they’ve been through and why they had to go through it in the first place.

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Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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