Greatest Generation Introduction and Wages of War Epilogue

by lbevis | December 2nd, 2010

These two excerpts, from opposites ends of their respective books, reflect on similar aspects of American veterans through out American history.  The sad fact is that there are war time veterans from every generation, leading to the reality that there has been at least one war for every generation of Americans to have fought. In the Wages of War epilogue, Severo and Milford focus mainly on the oppression of veterans, in particular veterans who suffered from the adverse affects of Agent Orange and the hero of the book, Daniel Shays.  Severo and Milford write about the overall oppression of veterans saying, “The tragedy of Agent Orange was not unique…If the soldiers of Vietnam thought that there had never been a group of veterans so ignored, abused and betrayed, it was not because they tried to rewrite history, but because they knew so little about it.” (Wages of War, pg. 419).  Severo and Milford continue on describing the continual poor treatment of soldiers and veterans, emphasizing the way the government tried to brush off major health issues including Agent Orange and illnesses soldiers caught while fighting, in particular diseases caught in Cuba and the Philippines.

On the other hand, Michael Gambone, in The Greatest Generation Comes Home, talks more about the improvement, to some extent,  of veteran treatment over the years.  Gambone writes about the large amounts of money Congress ends up spending on veterans, writing, “Although Congress estimated that the 1862 law would cost the treasury $7 million per year, two years later the bufget for pensioners had almost doubled, to $13.4 million.  By !874, it had increased to $30.5 million.  By 1893, it had ballooned to a breathtaking $158.1 million.” (The Greatest Generation Comes Home, pg. 8).  In conclusion, veterans, while not necessarily receive all that they should in benefits, have at least made some progress and receive a large portion of the nations budget.  Gambone states, “…by 1932, the year of the disastrous Bonus March on Washington, 12.8 percent of the total federal budget was dedicated to veterans.” (The Greatest Generation Comes Home, pg. 10).

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