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As many of you know, I'm a U.S. Army veteran. I joined the Army right out of high school. Starting on August 1, 1985, I began my journey by starting OSUT training (One Station Unit Training, i.e. Basic and AIT) at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri (a fictionalized account of that day can be found here).

After Ft. Leonard Wood, I was sent to Europe, where I was stationed on top of a mountain, Wildflecken, Federal Republic of Germany, and served in Co. D, 54th Engineer Battalion. In Germany we constantly trained for what we thought was the inevitable war with the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations. I spent time at OP Alpha watching the Soviets watch us, watch them, watch us.

After Germany I was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, Co. B, 326th Engineer Battalion, at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Here we trained for multiple scenarios as we were part of the Army's rapid deployment force. I was honorably discharged from the Army in August of 1989. One year after I was discharged from the Army, the first Gulf War began when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The lives of my brothers-in-arms would never be the same. Some came home unscathed, others with physical wounds, mental scars or medical issues (that would ultimately become known as Gulf War Syndrome).

When I first heard that the 101st Airborne was being deployed to the Gulf as a part of Operation Desert Shield, I felt guilty that I was not going with them. I still do feel some guilt to this day. In the intervening years I lost touch with many of the men I served with. Over the last few years, through the wonder of Facebook, we have reconnected. In many cases, we are on different sides of the political spectrum, but one thing we all agree on is that we as a nation need to take better care of those who served.

The video at the top of this diary is from one of my favorite bands, Five Finger Death Punch. The video is for their song Wrong Side of Heaven, and it is a powerful and moving video. Follow below the fold to find out what Five Finger Death Punch had to say about why they made this video:

We wanted to do something impactful to help our veterans. We hope to raise awareness for the seriousness of their issues and to donate to the organizations that are making a difference to better the lives of our veterans.”- Five Finger Death Punch

To coincide with the premiere of the official video for “Wrong Side of Heaven” on Vevo, the band have launched a campaign to support our veterans suffering from PTSD (...) head over to to find out more about the campaign and how you can join the fight.

I have transcribed some of the points that rolled across the screen during the song for those of you who are unable to watch video, or not into heavy metal.
While you are watching this:
  1. There are 300,000 homeless veterans sleeping on the streets and this number is rising.
  2. Over 1.4 Million veterans are at risk of becoming homeless
  3. More than 67 percent of homeless veterans served our country for at least three years.
  4. The divorce rate amongst military couples has increased 42 percent.
  5. An estimated 460,000 veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  6. Homeless vets spend an average of six years on the streets.
  7. Nearly 5,000 veterans die by their own hands every year. That is one veteran every two hours.
Before we spend one dime on more bombs, more missiles, more planes, ships, rifles, or any other thing designed to kill another human being, every single veteran—every single one—should have a home, and should be getting the treatment he or she deserves. I salute Five Finger Death Punch for producing such a powerful video, and it is my sincere hope that it brings more awareness to the plight of homeless veterans in the United States.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 12:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by IGTNT Advisory Group, Badger State Progressive, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Some even underestimated... (14+ / 0-)

    There is no doubt that the problems I saw in the 70s with Vietnam Veterans are repeating with a vengeance with Iraq/Afghanistan vets!  When will we learn that getting involved in unnecessary and non-winnable wars does way more harm than good... to the warriors and those whose country we go to war in, as well as those we call "the enemy"!

    I think that the number of veterans suffering from PTSD is way underestimated, especially when considering Vietnam Veterans.  And as an advocate for homeless services we have to be careful in talking about ending veterans homelessness if we only count our success with those we find -- so many veterans from Vietnam and from the latest generation avoid identifying themselves as veterans and have a hard time seeking out services.  It takes extra effort, preferably by veteran peer counselors, to reach those vets!

  •  Im a pacifist (12+ / 0-)

    and my views on war and military activities is pretty easy to figure out. But even I think the way we treat our veterans is shameful. Sure, I'd prefer veterans not exist (because without wars you wouldnt have veterans) but this country has decided veterans are heroes.

    Well they sure don't get treated like it. And who are we, if we cannot even help out those who sacrificed so much? There's not much chance for the rest of us if even our heroes are left without help.

    No light, no dark, no up, no down. No life. No time. Without end. My people called it The Void. The Eternals called it The Howling. But some people call it The Tea Party.

    by kamrom on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 01:18:18 PM PDT

  •  We have not won a single war since 1945. (5+ / 0-)

    Yet we still spend most of our Federal monies on Wars, and Armaments (Israel would not be genocide-ing the people of Gaza without our weaponry, offered as gifts.) Only predictable change in any of this is that some of the military budget will be going into more Surveillance, rather than on weapons, but still.

    I feel for the vets in this country. But the Defense Contractors' money and the Federal money is so well distributed, from the lobbyists to the Congressional leaders, who vote for the weapons and the wars, and who retire from Congress to head some DoD firm that I doubt it will change. If someone somewhere could get a kickback from a vet having a decent place to live, or a job, or decent and timely medical services, then maybe our "Congressional leaders" would be interested in taking care of the veterans.

    The hardware end of the military is all so lucrative. The soft fleshy end of the military is disposable.

    If there were a way to see that no human could ever gain from the selling of a single piece of military equipment, wars would end within six months. Right now, that is not going to happen because of how the corrupted system  has the military spending built in to our government's operation.

  •  Powerful diary and powerful video. Thank you. (11+ / 0-)

    Glad this was front-paged, too.

  •  From (10+ / 0-)

    Marine who urinated on corpses in Afghanistan dies What hell did he suffer when he came home?  And the people who sent him there, still walk around, well compensated.

    One does not simply walk into Mordor! One invites a gas driller in, and one’s land becomes Mordor. Chris From Balloon Juice

    by Mr Stagger Lee on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 01:20:05 PM PDT

  •  Powerful and important diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Tipped and rec'd.

    "These 'Yet To Be' United States" --James Baldwin--

    by kevinbr38 on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 01:25:47 PM PDT

  •  The powers to be look at soldiers and... (11+ / 0-)

    ...workers as disposable raw material.  Until this attitude changes nothing will.  People care about veterans, workers and the homeless.  The "authorities", the oligarchs , Wall Street are essentially sociopaths.

    Great diary.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action. UID: 9742

    by Shockwave on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 01:38:54 PM PDT

  •  Our brother & sisters (11+ / 0-)

    These folks sacrifice their selves to protect us,

    Not just 'themselves', but who they are, who they could be for the sake of the rest of us.

    That we leave them drifting on their own after they have provided this service is offensive and cruel. I did a normal stint in a non-wartime footing. The folks doing multiple tours in a war zone and getting abandoned when they get home? Criminal.

    That song was appropriate. The imagery in it was infectious. We owe our vets more.

    The Spartans had whole colonies of retired soldiers set up in communities to support their own... that we don't even have that kind of 'hindsight' is (again) criminal.

    These folks put themselves in harms way to protect us. What have you done for them?

    - MM

    The difference for me is consent. Are you receiving a gift or taking a prize?

    by MightyMoose on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 01:45:14 PM PDT

  •  I used to spend time avoiding telling people (10+ / 0-)

    I was a vet, but over time I've come to tell people that yes, not only am I vet, but that I've gained tons more empathy for other vets as I've gotten older. We have a small, local group of vets we've formed ourselves who work on vets' issues and try to work on ways of releasing the upsets of military service.

    One of our guys is a vet and also a social worker at our local VA healthcare in Long Beach, and he sees it all: alcoholism, homelessness, mental health issues, and he has to always unload about the hurt of it all so he can keep working and being of some service to vets.  

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 01:45:46 PM PDT

  •  Why are the vets confused? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, flycaster

    Because it's real easy to give lip service and call them all heroes, and just as easy to slap a ribbon shaped magnet on your car that reads 'Support Our Troops'.

    But when it comes to actually showing up and delivering some REAL support, things tend to get a tad harder. Geez- These guys take so much time….

    I don't have any money to spend on anybody but myself right now…

    I never wanted the wars in the first place….
    Let the VA take care of 'em. That's what they're there for…

    We are already 17 trillion dollars in debt…

    I don't want a house full of crazy bums in my neighborhood…

    Or in my car…

    Or in my life….

    They volunteered, didn't they?….

    Where are their families?….

    Let the bleeding hearts do it….

    They all listen to Rush anyway….

    Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

    by Idaho07 on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 01:50:59 PM PDT

  •  Agree 100%. The social contract our nation makes (8+ / 0-)

    with the Volunteers who choose to Serve the Nation and their fellow citizens is one which seems to be tethered by fairly nebulous ties anymore.

    How our federal government can allow hundreds of thousands of men and women who once wore the Uniform to sleep in their cars, outside, in shelters?

    I don't believe I'm alone when I say that it is DISGRACEFUL and worse yet - it's unnecessary.

    HUD owns perhaps MILLIONS of home mortgages, bought up during the TARP asset relief purchases. What's more, they own HOMES, which were seized during foreclosures.

    More than 6 MILLION homes have gone through foreclosure during the past six years. HUD may well own a significant portion of them.

    Why can't the US Government take those vacant homes and give Veterans without one a place to live?

    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 01:55:12 PM PDT

  •  I went to 5FDP's website (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, Ginny in CO

    and donated to their  '5FDP4VETS - No One Gets Left Behind'  Indiegogo account; they've raised a lot of $.  Donate a certain amount and receive a jersey!  
    By the way, without this diary, I never would've donated to vets.  My charity only went to animal donations.  That video is incredibly sad and powerful. Thank you Mark.

  •  I watched this video on YouTube two nights ago.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, jbsoul

    I watched this video on YouTube two nights ago. I'm so happy to see it on dailykos. Thank you for sharing!

  •  There is no doubt we have failed our veterans. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, Ginny in CO, SGA, Anna M

    Since Vietnam we have failed our men and women who bravely serve.  As a nation we should be judged on how we treat those who risk life and limb(s) for this country.  

    Mahatma Gandhi once said: "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated".

    In America we spent $56 billion on our pets last year.  I think Gandhi was wrong.  

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 02:12:00 PM PDT

  •  Sad to say, but we need to work harder to show why (0+ / 0-)

    it isn't just wrong to treat our veterans this way, it's expensive.

    Instead of giving them the help they need to heal from the war, to upgrade their skills, and to integrate back into their communities, we pay $$$$ to deal with the downstream problems.  

    It'd be great if doing the right thing was enough these days, but it isn't.  We have to convince people that in the long run, it's cheaper.  And, BTW, it is.  

  •  The Postal Service (3+ / 0-)

    is the largest employer of vets outside of DOD (about 21% of their employees are veterans), and some politicians seem to be doing everything they can to get rid of those mid-wage jobs. They work for corporations now.   Apparently the corporate masters want everyone to be working fast food minimum wage jobs.  

    I too joined the army in the 1980's to fight the "Cold War".  Went to OSUT basic training in Ft. McClellan, Alabama.  Seems like ages ago - I guess we "won" the cold war?  Somewhere I think we mixed up the meaning of "democracy" with "capitalism".  Little did we know back then that we were really soldiers for Capitalism.  I used to be confused, but now I realize that really War Is a Racket (as Smedley Butler once said), and only a means for big businesses to make money.  Vets are only pawns in the game - and totally worthless when their time is spent.  It's all about someone making money anymore.  I hope I don't sound bitter.

  •  Lincoln was the man who first recognized (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbsoul, SGA

    that when a nation asks for volunteers to "serve" what it is really asking them to do is to put to death the life they had and all the potential there was in it. That is the reality of it.
    You shed your old life and start a new one. You may not die, but part of you did. You may even die in truth.

    It really is very simple. VA benefits are underfunded. The healthcare center, the benefits offices, and the veterans themselves. Under paid for sacrificing a life so the rest of the country doesn't have to. 2,300 per month. It's silly. That won't even cover the cost of an apartment rental in New York. All those everyday expenses add up and by the time everything is paid for the veteran is in the red. And you wonder why they are homeless? They are set up to fail from the get go.

    Everytime I see one of those magnets Saying they support the  troops, I wonder if that driver pays his or her taxes. You really want to support the troops, You pay for what was used up so that you could have a nice safe life. How about you pay what you think your life is worth.

    Give blood. Play hockey.

    by flycaster on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 02:46:47 PM PDT

  •  IMHO a org. that is worth supporting is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen

    Fisher House. Their focus is on wounded Vets, but at least it is a start in the right direction, though it should be tax payer based, not donation based.(maybe someone can place a link)

    Thanks for the post Mark, 'ESSAYON' .

  •  The Premise... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen

    ...of your short story--being quickly over your head in a new, institution-style endeavor reminds me of another short story I've read--University by the great Piers Anthony, in his Anthonology volume.

    I can't link to any text, because Anthony's really up on his copyright protection, but for anyone who hasn't read it, it's up to Piers' normal standard of hilarity.

  •  I've got one simple suggestion. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    All members of the House, Senate, Supreme Court and the President and Vice-President must receive their health care through the VA.

  •  I totally agree with the main premise here... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calvino Partigiani, mimi, Metric Only

    We must give life-long, ongoing care to our vets.  

    I do quarrel, however, with the attitude of many, not only at Kos but across the country, who say these vets became soldiers and sacrificed to save us:

    These folks put themselves in harms way to protect us.
    No offense mighty moose.  I know what you mean.  I just want to stop using this terminology.

    No.  These young men probably thought they were joining in order to protect us.  Mostly they signed up because they bought the lie, they bought the propaganda, that it was necessary to save our way of life.  With the probable exception of WWII. our wars, police actions, military 'adviser' programs and deployments have been fake security threats.  Our young men and women were told lies.  Sadly, these young men and women bought into these lies, for the most part, that is.

    Part of the PTSD and failure to adjust comes from realizing that the 'noble' cause for which they thought they were signing up was a lie.  Yet we can't and shouldn't blame them for buying into the lie.  This brand of bogus patriotism was recited and repeated to them, and to all of us, day in and day out at school, at sporting events, in the media ever since the day in 1947 when Senator Arthur Vandenberg presented his Defence War budget to Harry Truman.  

    Aghast at the staggeringly huge amount requested for the DOD, Truman asked, "How can I possibly get such a budget passed through Congress?  The American people want peace now."  To which Vandenberg replied:

    Scare the Hell out of them!
    And look at the list of scare tactics ever since:
    1) Korea:  The domino theory of communism & Syngman Rhee boasted that he was going to attack North Korea. North Koreans then invaded South Korea and the actual fighting started.
    2) Viet Nam: n/c Y'all know.
    3) Central American & Contra Wars:  Threat that Latinos would invade the US at Harlingen, TX.
    4) Grenada: The possiblefates of U.S. medical school students due to that ruthless humanitarian Maurice Bishop.
    5) Panama:  n/c
    6) Gulf War I: ?Saddam's invasion?? of Kuwait!
    7) Afghanistan: n/c
    8) Iraq I:  Nonexistent WMDs.
    ................and coming soon to a war theatre near you:
    Iraq II, Iran, Syria, Ukraine >>> Russia...

    If we don't stop this insanity, it could be all she wrote!


    “…violence is mimetic, one act of violence sowing the seeds for the next.” Jules Fraser

    by dharmasyd on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 04:18:22 PM PDT

    •  No worries (3+ / 0-)

      A soldier's intention for service isn't the same as the forces asking for that service.

      I volunteered for Air Force service because I felt I 'owed' it. We weren't at "war" with anyone. I felt it was part of the price paid for citizenship. (My years in Cub/Boy Scouts coming into play, I guess)

      What it meant in the 80's isn't the same as it means today (sadly)

      - MM  

      The difference for me is consent. Are you receiving a gift or taking a prize?

      by MightyMoose on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 05:02:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was honorably discharged in 77 and told I wou... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, jbsoul, Metric Only, SGA

    I was honorably discharged in 77 and told I wouldn't qualify for veteran benefits so for over 30 years, 36 to be exact I didn't bother even acknowledging I am a veteran until last year when a very nice lady working as a VA liaison in homeless shelters informed me I'd qualified since 1980 so over 30 years of needless medical bills later I finally get to see doctors without begging at ERs.. Sadly a TON of money earmarked for vets gets funneled into church coffers under the guise of 'helping' homeless vets.

  •  for me this number is the most saddening (4+ / 0-)
    4.The divorce rate amongst military couples has increased 42 percent.

    We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

    by mimi on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 06:36:30 PM PDT

  •  I was in Wildflecken too... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, Metric Only, SGA

    From Dec 1986 - May 1987 as a member of the 11th ACR, Combat Support Squadron, Medical Troop!  My unit then moved to Fulda and I spent the rest of my tour of duty there until I got orders to Walter Reed Medical Center in D.C. I ETS'd in 1990 and was recalled for Operation Desert Storm in 1991 - receiving my recall orders exactly 1 year to the day of ETS'ing. My recall tour only lasted for 2 1/2 months - and I never made it to Iraq, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. Even though I saw no combat - the recall really disrupted my life at that time!

    My Basic Training at Fort Dix was certainly a formative  experience and something I look back on with vivid memories.  Same for AIT at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas.  But my first duty station  in Wildflecken was really special for those few months that my unit was there.  Although I come from Maine  - I had never seen so much snow as we experienced in the Rhoen Mountains during the winter of '86-'87! I will try to get back there (and especially Kreuzberg) when I travel to Europe!

    Great post and I totally concur with the plight of our Vets! We need to do more to ensure that our returning soldiers get the help they need.  Not only to survive, but to live with dignity and thrive as soldier-citizens!

    The last of the new wave riders will be the first of the new age masters. T. Rundgren/Utopia, 1979

    by MEDem63 on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 06:58:23 PM PDT

    •  We were on... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Metric Only

      ...The Rock at the same time then. I got there in December of '85, left in December of '87.

      I am from Wisconsin, and have seen a lot of snow in my day, but nothing like we had in Wildflecken.

      I want to go back someday - see the Rock, the Kreuzberg, and OP Alpha.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 07:11:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love you guys (0+ / 0-)

    From one knucklehead to another.

    That's all.

  •  Glad to see someone else noticed!! (0+ / 0-)

    I placed the video and some comments up late last week after I found it from an article that decided it should be fact checked. Instead of 'fact checking' what this country, for decades now and especially the past decade plus and the two more wars from. Along with once again ignoring what was finally taking place in the VA under this Executive administration's helping Gen Shinseki to finally address, while still grossly under funded, the oh so many issues ignored or denied by the 99%plus served and their representatives continuing doing those folks bids as each 'scandal' that can be created sticks to the wall and everyone blasts the personal of the VA!! Other agencies get same as conservatism use to not do a thing while seeking to privatize for corporate profit off the peoples treasury, like their wars!

    This, any, video isn't about just one issue, one reads between the lines to find All the rest of the issues, something totally lacking in today's world of tech and opinion!!

    The VA even had to present 'facts' they gave to the media and those were ignored, for their journalism effect wanted, {that link takes you to my blog which links to their blog} to clarify the report for the public. Bet hardly any saw the VA clarification or will even care!!

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    by jimstaro on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 04:23:26 AM PDT

    •  Like the VA 'clarification' says (0+ / 0-)

      It is important that we openly and willingly discuss our mistakes and how we intend to improve. As we acknowledge areas where more work is needed, we also need to set the record straight when our work is unfairly mischaracterized.

      "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

      by jimstaro on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 04:25:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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