Earlier this month, I used to be on-line making arguments about ladies serving within the U.S. army. I couldn’t consider that, in 2021, I used to be truly countering arguments that had been used again in 1948, when ladies had been first allowed to function full members of the U.S. armed forces. As we speak’s GOP is yesterday’s bigotry. Nonetheless, ladies now make up roughly 20% of the U.S. army. Throughout my on-line battles, I shared loads of tales of bad-ass army ladies, and reminded the right-wing trolls that was no group more practical towards ISIS than the feminine Kurdish Peshmerga.
But they responded by quoting from a disgusting, misogynistic rant by Fox Information’ star host, Tucker Carlson, who actually mocked ladies service members, saying the U.S. was “feminizing” our army. He based mostly his assault solely on a report from our adversaries in China.
Pentagon management rallied to right the in depth misinformation being unfold by right-wing media, whereas army members rallied round their very own. Many thought it ironic that Carlson relied on the very ladies he was mocking to guard him, since he was too cowardly to ever serve himself.
Carlson’s assault on our personal service members utilizing enemy propaganda would have, I assumed, elicited no less than some type of response from the military-loving Republican Occasion. But just one Republican politician, Sen. Ted Cruz, spoke up—and that was to demand a gathering with the protection secretary to get him to cease “bullying” Tucker Carlson. No shock Cruz wouldn’t stick up for army ladies; look how he treats the ladies and ladies in his family.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked. In the course of the previous few years, the GOP has engaged in a continuing mockery of our army. My very own senator, Marco Rubio, doesn’t even recognize America’s army personnel. But nobody has completed extra injury than the GOP’s chief, Donald J. Trump. He started in 2016 with pretty excessive reputation within the service ranks, no less than in comparison with Hillary Clinton, however polls confirmed a constant decline that led many to vote for Joe Biden in 2020. Trump possible believed that the army voters had been much like the clueless rubes who attend his rallies and simply settle for his many outrageous lies with out query. He thought unsuitable.
The assaults on grieving Gold Star households, warfare widows, and POWs all occurred even earlier than Trump was elected, but it surely obtained a lot worse as soon as in workplace. Trump instructed quite a few lies in entrance of army crowds, from claiming he delivered “historic pay raises,” which had been simply the usual cost-of-living will increase they obtain yearly, to the unbelievable claims that he purchased new ships, planes, and even “rockets” that he by no means bought. Trump additionally stated he was fixing the disasters at Veterans Affairs, however as a substitute infested it along with his cronies, and allowed his spoiled son-in-law to run amok. With no success to point out with veteran’s points, Trump as a substitute tried to take credit score a number of instances for army payments that had been handed years earlier than he arrived—written and signed into regulation by his self-declared nemeses, like Sen. John McCain and President Barack Obama.
The lies, nevertheless, had been nothing in comparison with his abuse of lively responsibility and reserve troops. He dismantled their monetary protections, compelled kids of fallen heroes to pay a “kiddie tax” on their advantages, raided DoD faculty building cash for his vainness wall, and pardoned warfare criminals. He deployed troops to the border over the vacations as a midterm stunt, and once more towards fellow Individuals for a picture op with a Bible.
But worst of all was Trump’s submission to Vladimir Putin and our enemies. He ignored stories of Russian bounties on American troopers in Afghanistan, continued to hearth protection officers at will, and stabbed our Kurdish allies within the again. He praised overseas troops whereas reportedly calling American veterans who died “suckers and losers.” His personal secretary of protection resigned over Trump sucking as much as our enemies.
Trump even refused to attend ceremonies honoring the return of the stays of a U.S. service member—often known as “dignified switch” ceremonies—as a result of he didn’t need to be berated by relations who blamed him for his or her deaths. Trump made it clear that any of their deaths had been their fault, not his.
The daddy of Navy SEAL William Owens, who was killed in Yemen, lashed out at Trump for authorizing the ill-conceived raid. This was Trump’s first army choice, and he made it with no enter from the Nationwide Safety council employees—simply Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon—who had been capable of persuade him to do it as a result of they believed it could make Obama look unhealthy.
Biden, alternatively, respects and praises not simply the army, however their households. His personal son deployed to Iraq. Biden reached out to army voters and particularly campaigned for his or her vote. In consequence, Biden made important headway in successful them over. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary by 26 factors amongst army voters. In 2020, exit polls present that Trump nonetheless gained the army, though by solely seven factors. Even that quantity I query, as a result of I justifiably don’t have numerous religion in exit polling, however the pattern away from the GOP is unmistakable.
Though Trump could have left the stage, it has not gone unnoticed that not one Republican legislator stood up for the army whereas Trump was hurling insults. Even Republicans with army backgrounds, like Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Brian Mast, stood on the sidelines and remained silent whereas Trump dishonored the troops. Solely Democrats stood up for them, and repair members observed. The one factor army voters hate is cowardice.
The disrespect and disrespect for many who serve or served continues.
When the Republicans had been in energy, there was nothing they may level towards that that they had completed for army members, until banning transgender troopers, or firing a preferred Navy captain as a result of he dared to talk out about how COVID-19 was killing his sailors depend as “accomplishments.” Liberals and progressives have an actual alternative to deal with quite a few points dealing with these serving in uniform, and maybe flip this beforehand dependable Republican constituency.
Democrats are in agency management of the Home, and though lots of the objects under are topic to a Republican filibuster, it could be tremendously troublesome for them to justify making an attempt one. In the event that they did, it could solely serve to make a army voter’s transition to Group Blue that a lot simpler.
Starvation in Army Households
The one time in my life once I certified for meals stamps was once I was a junior enlisted service member stationed in Texas again within the ‘90s. I used to be newly married, one youngster, and I couldn’t work multiple job due to my loopy rotating schedule as a army policeman—plus the necessary workouts and deployments. I needed to get what was known as a “Lone Star” card simply to verify we had sufficient groceries. This required me to be interviewed by the state and watch humiliating movies that presumed I used to be too lazy to get a job. (I recall one video that includes a lady jogger who stated it felt nice to run to a job and never leach off of Texans. They ran the identical footage in English and Spanish, so I obtained to look at it twice.)
It was against the law that we made so little cash that we couldn’t adequately feed our households, however this situation has been occurring for many years. I’m appalled that that is nonetheless a prime downside in 2021. The Division of Protection has by no means collected information on what number of army personnel are on meals stamps, and the one survey I might discover was completed in 2013, which indicated that one in 4 army households depend on meals pantries.
But regardless of promising to assist army households, Republicans repeatedly put forth funds proposals that actively focused the meals advantages veterans relied on to pay for extraordinary tax cuts for the rich:
New CAP evaluation reveals that in 2015, almost 1.5 million veterans lived in households that relied on SNAP advantages to maintain themselves and their households wholesome and fed.
If carried out by a discount within the variety of individuals taking part in this system, the lower of almost $200 billion that Trump proposed for SNAP over the following decade might snatch essential vitamin help away from a median of 400,000 veterans per yr—needlessly exposing them to the threats of starvation and malnourishment.
Veteran Tammy Duckworth known as army starvation an outrage and is combating to do one thing about it:
“We must always say if you happen to come to the army, your youngsters are going to get a great schooling, you are going to get good housing, and your youngsters are going to be fed,” she added.
Duckworth and Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., have been engaged on a provision to the Nationwide Protection Authorization Act that will assist increase the revenue of some service members whose primary pay is near or under the poverty line.
Their preliminary provision merely would have added a basic-needs allowance for low-income army households to allow them to have sufficient for meals. This could have been bipartisan, however unsurprisingly, the Trump administration strongly opposed this:
The administration objects to this provision as a result of it could be an pointless entitlement. Army members obtain applicable compensation already.
Naturally, the cowards within the GOP-controlled Senate blocked this provision. Nonetheless, the dynamic has modified with Democrats within the slim majority. Democrats must make some noise and make sure the conservatives who oppose this go on report.
Burn Pit Publicity
One essential situation proper now amongst veterans is how the VA treats those that make service-connected claims for burn pit publicity. Younger veterans of their 20s and 30s are creating well being points and cancers that aren’t regular for his or her age group, however can largely be traced to the open-air pits abroad that the army used to burn all the things from rubbish to jet gasoline to medical and human waste. The VA has denied virtually 80% of those claims, which implies that prior service members are on the hook for dealing with their very own medical bills and therapy.
This is among the most essential points for Veteran’s teams. A invoice from Democratic California Rep. Raul Ruiz and New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand would streamline the method of acquiring VA advantages for burn pit and different poisonous publicity.
It permits any veteran who has signs of burn pit publicity, and who had been deployed in sure areas, to get therapy with out requiring a burden of proof linking their signs to their stint within the service, which might show terribly troublesome. Such presumptive service is precisely what was completed with Vietnam-era veterans, so they may get therapy for Agent Orange publicity.
This is able to be the yr to make this occur.
Army ladies, particularly, have distinctive points that require progressive champions. Resulting from deployments with doable publicity to chemical compounds and toxins, army ladies are 3 times as more likely to undergo from infertility as their civilian counterparts.
But Tricare, the healthcare system for the Division of Protection, continues to refuse protection for in vitro fertilization and associated providers. This burdens the service member for extraordinary prices.
Sadly, federal laws usually are not pleasant to many fertility methods since they’re linked to the tradition warfare over abortion. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is not thought-about “pure,” neither is intrauterine insemination (IUI). Tricare gained’t even cowl fertility testing providers, which is widespread in most personal civilian plans.
Congressional Democrats ought to embrace altering this. Democrat Patty Murphy has championed laws to do exactly that, however has run into important opposition from right-wing non secular teams. Once more, that is one thing that may be overcome this yr if the Democrats make sufficient noise.
Sexual Assault Epidemic
Talking of girls within the army, an ongoing situation that also must be resolved is the epidemic of sexual assault and sexual harassment. A current CBS Information investigation into army sexual assault revealed greater than 20,000 active-duty members stated they had been assaulted throughout the previous 12 months. Girls usually tend to be focused, however many army males have additionally been subjected to sexual assault. A examine launched by the Protection Division reveals that the army has been sluggish to deal with this situation.
When victims do step ahead, they face retaliation or an detached command, as one viral TikTok makes clear.
Democrats have promoted the testimonies of courageous service members and veterans who got here ahead in an effort to push for laws that will lastly take away management of investigations from the male-oriented chain of command. Senior officers mustn’t examine sexual assault, as a substitute, service members needs to be allowed to report crimes on to an unbiased, specialised prosecutor.
The Pentagon has at all times resisted this transformation, however clearly, they’ve failed at defending their troops at each stage on this regard. Not solely would army order not be harmed by permitting this exception to the chain of command, it could possible be restored. This overhaul of the army justice system was not supported by Republicans and and even a number of Democrats when Senator Gillibrand proposed this initially again in 2013 to the Senate Armed Providers Committee. Some said they wished to offer the DoD an opportunity to deal with it. Nonetheless, after eight years of failure by the Pentagon, the tide has turned. Biden has given it unequivocal assist, and congressional Democrats are all on board for shielding army rape victims. Republicans could be silly to battle it.
Biden did give consideration to at least one problematic side of the army already that Trump allowed to fester: the radicalized parts throughout the ranks. Army members considered white nationalism as a lot of a risk as they did ISIS and al-Qaida; this risk drastically overshadowed fears about North Korea, Iraq, or the southern border.
In February, new Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin required a necessary stand-down till each member of the army and DoD civilian ranks acquired coaching and facilitated discussions on the specter of extremist ideology throughout the ranks.
The army’s intolerance of white nationalism is one other commonality with progressives, and now they’ve a commander in chief who’s prepared to battle towards it. This can be a refreshing change from the predecessor who embraced it.
There are loads of different points that concern army veterans, like job transitioning, spousal employment, and youngster care points—which might be exacerbated with in depth deployments. In the meantime, veterans are overrepresented within the homeless inhabitants and in variety of suicide makes an attempt.
Democrats needs to be on the forefront for all these points, not simply due to the votes, however as a result of it’s the proper factor to do. For years, the Republican Occasion has pandered to the army by paying lip service and utilizing them as props in commercials, solely to then ignore the huge systematic points they face. Service members and veterans deserve higher, and Democrats are in an incredible place to ship. The one query is that if Democrats will take this chance to be the choice that the women and men of the U.S. army are desperately searching for.