Wages of War and Greatest Generation

by acscharf | December 2nd, 2010

Wages of War
Severo and Milford’s contempt for the United States government and how it treated its soldiers becomes even clearer in this chapter. An example of this is on page 322, when they describe the Veterans Administration’s mission (VA) “to limit the liability of government for the wages of war”. The authors’ contempt becomes clear a few sentences later when Severo and Milford claim the VA’s goals were no loftier than any other administration, but instead of being marked by indifference and waste, the VA was marked by scandal and corruption. (page 423) This seems very true, there is even evidence in the Greatest Generation reading which supports the hypothesis that the VA was corrupt from its founding.

Greatest Generation
I find it interesting, and nearly hypocritical that being a veteran is a redeeming quality in a political election yet, for the average man it was viewed as a negative trait for the longest time. Through time, beginning with the Founding Fathers and continuing currently, time served in a war was a positive trait in anyone running for political office. It proves the candidate is a brave leader. Yet, veterans treatment and importance has vastly fluctuated in our society over the years. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century veterans possessed a “dominant place in public policy” and it was common for “colonies to establish benefits for old soldiers and their families”. (page 6) So why the regression in the treatment of veterans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century? Perhaps because of the ballooning cost of providing benefits for them? By 1893 the cost of providing benefits to Civil War veterans and their families had exceeded $158 million. (page 8) I also find it intriguing that in the twentieth century veterans were a strong, active group, yet they rarely managed to get their benefits. The power which the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars managed to rise to proves Gambone’s point. Veterans were “a powerful voting bloc” and a group big enough to maintain lobbyists and others representing their interests and pressuring politicians in D.C.. (page 9) However, even when they got the Veterans Administration (VA) reestablished, the VA still did not provide veterans with the benefits they needed and desired.

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