An op-ed piece I wrote for the Seattle Times
As we approach Veteran’s Day, I want the people of this Community to reflect on that question. Refrain for the moment from believing this simply isn’t the case because of the onslaught of polished public relations campaigns produced by Madison Avenue on behalf of Corporate America that appear almost nightly on your television that would have you believe otherwise. Much of this is driven by spin doctors within the same multi-national corporations whose real agenda is to burnish their brands by portraying themselves as four square behind military and veteran initiatives while in actuality giving minimally to charitable causes that are focused on military and veterans initiatives. In fact, we have in this Community some of the World’s largest multi-national corporations who have no military or veterans initiatives in their charitable gift giving programs whatsoever. Boeing is the exception to this dismal fact. It is a shameful indictment of the lack of shared sacrifice and its impact on the one percent we have asked to shoulder that sacrifice.
I for one am sick and tired of the jingoism and slogans that obscures the real emotional and financial pain that uniformed services personnel, veterans and their families are bearing as I write this op-ed piece. I am a Vietnam combat veteran. I have seen this playbook before. As the ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down to its inevitable conclusion so will the super heated rhetoric of jingoism and slogans being used by public institutions and multi-national corporations alike. It will be business as usual. For veterans and military families alike that means the emotional and financial burdens on them will increase while the rest of the Nation moves forward.
However, the public institutions charged with the responsibility and accountability for military personnel and veterans will hasten to assure us that those that serve and those that have served will be well looked after. The big lie begins. They tell us that because we have been conditioned by them to believe that the human cost of war is to be shouldered predominantly by our public institutions through taxes paid into the central government. That message is the salving balm they know we want applied to our collective conscience to make it easier for all of us not to have to face the truth.
The truth is there is and continues to be a chasm between our public institutions ability to care for the latest generation of military personnel and veterans, the historical generosity of the average American in giving to military and veterans initiatives and the private sectors tepid response to closing that chasm in any meaningful way. Until the day arrives that every private sector enterprise in this Country has some form of charitable giving for military and veterans initiatives to help the one percent of those that did the heavy lifting for ninety-nine percent of the rest of us we will continue to see what we are already seeing in our Seattle community. Everyday our Community is confronted with the first telltale signs of the abandonment of Middle East veterans in the form of joblessness, homelessness, suicides, depression, crippling PTSD and the unraveling of the Family fabric.
It’s time for the private sector to cease and desist from its slogans and jingoism and slick Madison Avenue produced TV spots and to commit itself to a constructive pathway of good corporate citizenship that is inclusive of military and veterans initiatives at the national, regional and local level. Until that day arrives, as a high ranking official at the Pentagon recently told me, a case can be made that there is a lot more “hoo-hah than doo-hah” coming from the private sector.