Epilogue and Other Veterans

by swrenn | December 2nd, 2010

In the epilogue of Wages of War Severo and Milford bring attention to the mistreatment of veterans as a whole. They point out that while Vietnam veterans were abused and isolated from society, it was not a unique towards the Vietnam generation. In fact, “the veterans of Vietnam were very much of the tradition.” (pg 420) From the Revolution and beyond veterans of all wars have experienced some form of neglect and maltreatment. As Severo and Milford point out, “when veterans of postwar periods are mentioned, it is usually in terms of their readjustment.” (pg 420) The government and society do not want to document the harsh treatment of veterans, thus the histories of veterans are glossed over to consist of just the hardship in readjusting to civilian life.

Similarly, Micheal Gambone notes that veterans started to be included in public policy and American politics once politicians began to recognize the value of military service. It is interesting that in the early colonies such as Plymouth, there were benefits for old soldiers and their families. William H. Glasson states that, “in 1718 Rhode Island enacted a law that included medical care and an annual pension drawn from the colony’s treasury.” (pg. 6) The debate over military pensions has not been resolved even today, but the question is why is this so? We saw WWI veterans march on Washington to recieve their promised bonuses even when “12.8 percent of the total federal budget was dedicated to veterans.” (pg. 10) Perhaps this is why society is unsympathetic towards the plights of veterans. In the eyes of the common civilian veterans are receiving special benefits from the government, and yet they still listen to the protests of veterans about how they are neglected. Thus, we have this inevitable gap between veterans and society that will in some way, shape or form will always be present.

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