The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Friday Nerd Blogging (Veterans Day Edition)

November 11, 2011

With approximately 1000 World War II veterans dying every day, and the absolute numbers from more recent wars increasing steadily, it’s important to give some thought to what we offer those who have served or are serving… and to what they offer us.

On the first score, a new report from Rand represents an example: this is a new effort to account for programs to treat traumatic brain injury due to armed service. (The report finds such programs are proliferating, but much more attention must be paid to which ones work.) I am interested if anyone knows of a similar report or dataset that documents (or analyzes) the total number of programs designed for veterans to deal with the holistic social, physical and mental stress of / aftermath of armed service.

On the second point, a thoughtful op-ed by Henry Schuster appeared at the 60 Minutes website this week:

there’s another one percent, who I call the real one percent. They are the men and women who fight our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya) and their families. The rest of us are the 99 percent.

We lend our moral support to the one percent. We cheer the veterans when their names are announced at ball games. Maybe we even have ribbons of various colors on our car. We say the obligatory ‘thank you for your service,’ and I believe we mean it. But we don’t really understand what that service really means for these members of the military.

This is our real great divide in this country. It is in part the consequence of an all-volunteer military. It is also in part the consequence of fighting wars without involving the rest of us. We weren’t asked to sacrifice after 9/11 or pay for the wars that followed. Imagine the reaction if we had a war tax. Or if there had been a draft. Instead, we’ve got the few fighting for the many and they do it at great cost to themselves and their families.

I’m not agreeing that the other divides in our country aren’t equally “real.” But this is an important thing to remember when we focus on the relatively few soldiers who get it grievously wrong in the course of their duties. If you can stand the ad at the start, the video above is a clip from Battlestar Galactica’s Final Cut that drives all three points home.

+ posts

Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.