By Ernest a. Canning
On the occasion in which Veteran’s for Bernie endorsed progressive Democrat Stephen R. Jaffe with respect to his bid to unseat incumbent California Democrat and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Tyson Manker observed:
Americans are sick of status quo politicians like Nancy Pelosi, who decades ago moved to Washington, D.C. only to lose complete touch with reality. No one is more fed up than military veterans who have faced the brunt of nearly 20 years of nonstop war. To his great credit, Stephen Jaffe has put forth the most comprehensive Veterans platform seen to date, one that Pelosi has had years to implement but failed to even try. No longer will we be taken for granted by lazy career politicians! For his strong support of military veterans and citizens alike, Stephen Jaffe has earned the endorsement of our national membership to become the next Congressman of California’s Twelfth district.
“On this Veterans’ Day, Mr. Jaffe issued an open letter/personal note that underscores those observations and the reasons why we endorsed him. With his permission, we are reprinting that letter in full:
Like many Americans, Veteran’s Day has a personal meaning to me. As a young medical doctor, my father, Louis Jaffe, served in the Army during World War II. He was a first-born-generation American. All four of my grandparents were from Russia and Poland.
As a Jew, he joined to fight Hitler and the Nazis. But after he joined, he was trained in tropical medicine; he expected to be sent somewhere in the Pacific in the war against the Japanese. However, using logic only the Army understood, he was then stationed on one of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. He stayed there until 1944 when, with no explanation, he was summoned to a small town in Tennessee. The town was Oak Ridge, one of the two locations of the Manhattan Project. (The other location was Los Alamos, New Mexico).
My Dad worked there until 1946 and temporarily became one of the world’s leading experts on the effects of radiation on humans. I am proud of my father and his extraordinary service to our country.
When I was of the age when military service was possible for me, the Viet Nam war was raging and reaching its peak. There was tremendous social and political pressure to resist the war and to resist voluntarily going into the military. As it turned out, although I was classified I-A (eligible to be drafted), I was medically disqualified from serving. I never had to face being drafted, refusing to be inducted or fleeing to Canada. So, I never served in military, something I have come to regret.
When I was a child, I remember the way the military was publicly perceived. Soldiers were heroes. Men returning from war in Europe, the Pacific or Korea were welcomed warmly. But things changed with Viet Nam. The country’s outrage against the immoral and unnecessary war was wrongly focused on the rank-and-file soldiers who had nothing to do with the political and military decisions which put them in harm’s way. That fault lay with the Johnson and Nixon Administrations.
The soldiers returning from Viet Nam were no longer heroes to many; they were cruelly and unjustly taunted as murderers and baby killers. This was not a good time to be a veteran. Some good films were made about what it was like to be a Viet Nam veteran those days: Coming Home and Born On the Fourth of July are two of them.
Veterans since Viet Nam have had a raw deal from the Government. The VA has been scandalously and negligently understaffed and equipped to do its job, causing the deaths of vets waiting for appointments. Chest-pounding self-declared Republican “patriots” regularly and hypocritically cut back veterans’ benefits. And perhaps most importantly, presidents of both parties have sent our men and women into unnecessary and prolonged wars, causing the avoidable deaths and physical destruction of those who serve. A disgraceful portion of the homeless and mentally ill in the US are military veterans whom we have all let down.
Was Viet Nam necessary? Apparently not, because Viet Nam is now the single reunited nation 58,220 Americans died to prevent existing – and that nation shows no intention of attacking or harming us. Was Iraq necessary? Obviously not. It was based on a Bush administration lie – the weapons of mass destruction ruse. Afghanistan? It was started to wipe out Al Qaeda “get” Bin Laden. But Al Qaeda has been replaced by ISIS and Bin Laden is dead. Now, the Korean Peninsula is poised to become the latest battlefield.
This policy of the US being in a perpetual state of war must end. My platform advocates no more such foreign military interventions. The US economy is a war-based economy addicted to ongoing war; it must be turned away from conflict and towards peace. The obscene $700+ billion military budget must be drastically cut and those freed-up funds used to solve the health, education, infrastructure and other urgent problems already existing. I advocate the full and immediate repair and revitalization of the VA so the men and women who serve in the military are treated with the respect and with the dignity they have earned and deserve.
I am proud to have earned the amazing endorsement of the National Veterans For Bernie organization. Join me and them to bringing about the changes which are desperately needed for our veterans and for all of us in the future.
We would again encourage our members to visit Mr. Jaffe’s campaign website and to provide assistance in what portends to be a landmark primary victory for the Sanders-led political revolution.