Monday, November 18, 2013

Defying the militarism in this society is difficult but it forces people to think

Allow me to respond to several criticisms (not including the swear words and simple insults offered by those apparently incapable of thought) to my jeremiad against Veterans' Day and the supposedly hallowed and heroic status of people in uniform or discharged from the military.

I will concede to one heckler that the federal government defines as “veteran” anyone who “any person, who served honorably on active duty in the armed forces of the United States.” However, there is no reason to have a day that honors drivers, clerks and cooks in military uniform — rather than people who saw bullets fly — if there is no honoring their civilian peers.

The next set of complaints — actually whining — was about money.

One cranky note was sounded about the fact that military men and women pay for their uniforms. That’s actually true. However, the alleged heroism of the deed vanishes once one learns that these payments are reimbursed: the military clothing allowance tables below are effective as of October 1, 2012 through September 30th, 2013 for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps was between $2,031.69 for females in the Navy to $1,464.04 for Air Force men.

Plus, there‘s a civilian clothing allowance. No civilian job has these benefits. Just like almost no civilian job includes
  • housing; 
  • a basement-price shopping mall (aka the PX); 
  • a education system for the employee’s kids;
  • moving expenses and opportunities to see the world free and meet interesting people (in the Vietnam War era the  joke added: then kill them); and
  •  lavish, life-long free health care.
The other cash complaint was retirement pay. The whiner cited a friend’s $1,018 military retirement check. Setting aside the ex-uniformed retirement double- and triple-dipping (military, plus post-military civilian civil service, plus social security), let’s recall that the military retirement sum is about twice what is paid to the average poor mother with two children, none of whom ever killed anyone and also more than some people’s social security in old age.

Finally, there’s the excuse deemed inadmissible at the Nuremberg trials: we were following orders.

The modern American version that we should really complain to politicians whom the veterans obeyed. Hiding behind the skirts of the politicians might have worked during the draft and only for those unprincipled enough not to declare conscientious objector status, damn the consequences.

Today, every individual in the military is a volunteer. Don’t want to kill people? Don’t join the military. It’s a choice. Quit whining.

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