- - Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

We hear a lot today from our politicians about the evil, greedy “one percent.” But instead of pitting Americans against each other for political gain, our leaders ought to be focusing on the one percent that unites these United States and keeps us all safe, secure and prosperous.

This other one percent are those men and women who volunteer to serve in our armed forces. Though often invisible to us, this other one percent puts their lives on the line for our freedoms each and every day.

Many of its members make the ultimate sacrifice. For those who do not, their lives are almost never the same: So many come home with catastrophic physical wounds and searing mental scars.

The members of our armed forces — the one percent on whose shoulders our country stands — deserve the support of the other 99 percent they represent.

It is a sad commentary on our nation when our soldiers do not have the necessary equipment to defeat our enemies, let alone adequate supplies to fulfill their basic duties; it is a sad commentary on our nation when our soldiers do not have the best health care that money can buy; it is a sad commentary on our nation when our soldiers are left to be sitting ducks because of rules of engagement that empower only our lawyers and, far worse, our enemies.

The ultimate travesty, and the worst commentary of all, is that the men and women of our armed forces are taking their own lives at the rate of almost one per hour due to the unspoken 21st century epidemic of severe mental trauma.

Our troops deserve better, and we owe it to them to do everything we can as individuals to ensure that they are protected both on the battlefield and when they return home to civilian life. And our care must extend to the families who stand with them through thick and thin, too.

Make no mistake about it: This is not just about reforming some government agency, or passing another bill. Our responsibility is far greater, and if Washington gets in the way, that is no excuse. It is our job not only as Americans, but as decent, honorable human beings to take matters into our own hands.

We can’t just complain about how the Department of Veterans Affairs is failing the other one percent — we must be proactive. We must reach into our own pockets, dedicate our own time and yes, if need be, replace those politicians who don’t represent what needs to be done to start to pay down the debt of gratitude that we owe our troops.

At the very least — each and every American should write a letter to his or her member of Congress demanding that our troops are:

• Equipped with the most advanced equipment available at the levels our military requires.

• Covered by the best health care on the market both during and after they have served.

• Protected by reasonable rules of engagement that put their lives first.

What’s more, our support for those who keep us safe must extend beyond the battlefield because for too many young men and women, the real battle begins when they come home.

The transition from military to civilian life is not easy. But the members of our armed forces are strategic thinkers and leaders with vast capabilities, who thrive when they have a clear objective.

We must make every effort to teach our troops the skills and provide the opportunities necessary for them to enter the workforce and continue to positively contribute.

Some of our troops may be dented when they come home, but they are never broken. By helping them gain employment, we will help them again have a sense of purpose, honor and dignity.

On this Veterans Day, we should be thinking about doing all that we can do to serve those who have dedicated their lives to so valiantly serving us.

Let us reward their humble sacrifice, obligation and commitment with our own. It is our moral duty and, what’s more, our moral responsibility to do so.

It is the least we can do.

It is the right thing to do.

Georgette Mosbacher is the CEO of Borghese in New York and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.


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