Support the Troops?

Support the troops?  Give me a fucking break!  Every time I hear that now it makes me want to throttle somebody…and those magnets? For fuck’s sake, grow a fucking conscience!  I wonder how much money has been spent on those little yellow magnets for everybody’s car.  I wonder where those magnets were made and what kind of profits were made and by whom.  Where does that money go?   To the vets?  Everybody wants to show their support.  I get that…but it’s not about “supporting the troops” really, its about trying to do one more little subtle thing to show that people who believe as I do about these wars are the one’s who really support the troops.  We’re the good guys!  Those other people who disagree with me are the bad people.  They do not “support the troops.”  If the person thinks that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a good idea, that it is somehow making America a safer place, then they will say, “How can you not support the troops like that?  How would you feel if you were there fighting and the people back home in America thought the wars  you might die in was just a big waste.  “Support Our Troops” has become another way of trying to make your opinion seem like the right one.  I’m sick of it!  How fucking disgusting to use real human lives, the lives of people who are willing to sacrifice all for this nation, as political pawns.  That’s beyond disgusting!

When I was in Washington DC marching with a bunch of other Iraq War Vets, this woman yelled out to me, “Why don’t you support the troops!?”  I just stopped dead in my tracks and held the corners of my T shirt for her to read it.  It said, “Iraq Veterans Against the War.”  I just said in a normal voice, “Lady, I am a troop.”  She was horrified.  She got all teary eyed and it was clear that she was embarrassed.  It was then I knew that she knew better.  She was just along for the ride with a lot of other people who had told her how to think and feel.  She had no doubt had many moments alone when she realized how wrong this war is, but because she identifies as a member of a certain party and because she might draw criticism from her friends, she was still willing to stand there screaming at the people who were marching even though I know, deep down she would have liked to marching with us.  When I said what I did and her eyes filled with tears, I knew.  It was like a little window had opened up and I could see into her heart.  I just pointed at her and said, “You know better.  I can see it in your eyes.”  Then she started fumbling around with her belongings and clothes and wouldn’t look me in the eye.  I’m sure she just wished I’d walk on down the road.  They were a few yards away behind this rope and we were all marching down the street.  I just stood there until she stopped pretending to be looking for what she was looking for.  I just said it one more time, “You know better” and then I continued on with the other veterans.  I hope she had the courage to stop supporting a war that she knows better than to support.  The man standing next to her, I perceived to be her husband, I wonder if it was him that forced her to do what she was doing.

I wonder what fraction of veterans who served in Vietnam now think that that war was a good idea.  Thousands and thousands of Vietnam War veterans spoke out.  Are they unpatriotic for saying so?  I think it is criminal the way we treat our veterans in this country.  I thought we had learned from Vietnam but apparently we haven’t.  Someone who has never served in the military at all will scream at me for speaking out against this war.  Is that what they mean by “Support the troops?”  I think they mean “Support the troops who agree with our politics and don’t make any problems for our agenda.”  Of course that would be hard to fit on the magnet.  What do they really mean by that “Support the Troops” bit if it clearly doesn’t mean being willing to listen to what we returning vets have to say?  “Support the troops as long as they keep their mouths shut if they don’t agree with my politics.”  Does “Support the troops” mean you’d buy them a meal?  If you were in a restaurant and some young veteran was sitting across from you and you figured out it was his or her first night back from Iraq or Afghanistan, would you buy his or her meal?  Just to say thanks, I mean?  That would certainly be a nice gesture I’d say.  What about (assume it’s a young man), what about his wife and his two little kids?  Would you buy their meal too?  Just to say thanks, I mean?  What about if you ran into him next week?  What if he said that his wife had left him and taken the kids?  Would you buy his meal for that day?  Even if it seemed he’d been drinking, like he was really upset and like he was feeling a little crazy?

That’s what I want to know!  I want to know what the statute of limitations is on “Support the Troops”is so I can hopefully get in under the wire and get my little scrap of support before its too late.  I’m already feeling pretty UN-supported if you want to know the truth.  Please just tell me how many weeks a returning service member gets to be supported, how many days, how many minutes.  Tell me exactly what that magnet means because…

it clearly doesn’t not mean refusing to vote for a candidate who supports cuts in veterans’ benefits.

It clearly doesn’t not mean listening to a returning veteran share his or her beliefs about the war if they disagree with your own.

It clearly doesn’t mean making sure that they have food to eat, a job to go to, the tuition support they deserve, adequate housing, medical benefits, emotional support…

In fact Mr. I’m-a-good-American-because-I-have-a-magnet-on-my-car, “supporting the troops” doesn’t mean any of that shit.

To you it means, “I support my opinion.”  Well you know what that’s worth to the veterans that so badly need your appreciation, your support, your help?  It doesn’t mean shit!  It’s no help at all.  So, although I appreciate the gesture…that is to say, at least acknowledging us is better than nothing…you know what?  I take that back.  Talk is cheap.  Fuck you and fuck your magnet.

From now on, I want you to keep track of the people that ask you for help on the street.  Count them as you pass by with your, “Sorry, Mac I’m all out” bullshit.  Once you’ve passed by three of them, chances are one of them is a vet.  So take that little yellow magnet and shove it up your ass.  It says too little.  Picture one that says what you really want to say.  “I support the troops that say and do as I think they should, agree with my politics, keep their mouth shut if they don’t, get and keep a job when they come home and don’t come looking for any handouts, don’t have problems with drugs or alcohol, don’t beat their wives, don’t suffer from PTSD, and don’t otherwise inconvenience me in any way.”  That’s what your magnet should say…and every time you see a homeless person on the street…I want you to picture that long, wordy, yellow ribbon around their neck.  You put it there.

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