There is an increasing sense among veterans of prior wars that money, attention, and service for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are taking a higher priority over service to those in who fought in World War II, Korean or the Vietnam wars. A recent comment by Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has sparked a controversy. He noted, that “unlike during the Vietnam War, today’s military is a professional all-volunteer force.” The assumption by his remarks appears to suggest current members of the military are more qualified as a fighting force. After being blasted by veteran groups, Mr. Reickhoff issued an apology.
The truth is historically, America depended on a Citizen’s Army and they performed heroically in prior wars. A visit to a Veteran’s Hospital still reveals evidence of discrimination against those who served. In the past, veterans had access to medical care, but today there are income requirements. I don’t recall any income requirements when we entered the military. It is time to rethink the treatment of veterans including addressing the needs of those who served in the Merchant Marine and the brave members of the Philippine Scouts.