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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

“Against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

Jason Mizula and memebers of Veterans for Peace and Iraq
Veterans Against the War march during a global day of action on
Oct. 15.

Jason Mizula and memebers of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War march during a global day of action on Oct. 15.

What does Veterans Day mean to me? It’s a reminder of the battles that lie ahead if we want the country and world that we thought we were fighting for. There have been homeless veterans from every war in our nation’s history. From the wars of the past decade, a growing number join the ranks of the aging, forgotten veterans that comprise one third of America’s homeless, according to conservative Veterans Association (VA) estimates.

Nearly one quarter of a million veterans are living on the streets or in shelters on any given night. With a decade of wars (hopefully) winding down, those numbers are likely to increase. While homelessness is certainly a huge problem that is often swept under the rug, according to the Army Times, an average of 18 veterans are committing suicide a day, with five of those happening in VA care. The military has been losing more active duty members to suicide than to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as of late.

While many know who won the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA finals and “American Idol,” far fewer know about our veterans. Those who do know only know what the government wants them to: things like the GI Bill, and the fact we’ll soon be leaving Iraq after nearly nine years.

The GI Bill is an opportunity for many veterans to get an education. However, if veterans are homeless, taking a laundry list of prescription pills or killing themselves, they cannot partake in this benefaction.

Many of these veterans got to have a peek behind the curtain to see how the system truly operates. They have seen that many of those we label “terrorist” are doing nothing different than you or I would do if a foreign government sent its military to occupy the United States, and your ten minute commute to UMB turned into an endless maze of checkpoints where 18-year-old kids, ignorant of your language and culture, treated you like a criminal. Even if they didn’t kill your family, they sure as hell screwed up your way of life. For many, they come home to a country that has long since forgotten they are still at war.

Even when the media was reporting on the war and yellow ribbon magnets were going on cars, they were scaring us with countless stories about why we should be afraid, about how much the “enemies” hate our freedom. Better to fight them in Baghdad than Boston, right?

Instilling fear in the local population and in innocent civilians is not winning hearts and minds. Many of us veterans see this. We come home to a country that has forgotten we are at war, a country that thanks us for our service in a war that was of no concern to the American people but of great concern to a host of corporations.

As Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, once said, “If you take the profit out of war there will be no more war.” I say, leave the profit but pass an amendment that requires the children of all politicians, past and present, to serve in the military and not be exempt from combat. See how willing they will be to sacrifice their own sons and daughters.

Butler said he was a racketeer for capitalism. He died with two Medals of Honor. I wouldn’t argue with him. He was a battle-hardened general but became a Veteran for Peace. You can’t slap a yellow ribbon magnet over a Gold Star.

Halliburton and Northrop Grumman’s bottom line won’t keep a veteran or a soldier from killing himself or herself, or from burying themselves in addiction. If we honor veterans, this includes all of them, especially the homeless. This includes those killing themselves. This includes Veterans for Peace like Howard Zinn, myself and many of my friends. This includes the Vietnam Veterans and my fellow Iraq veterans I was arrested with on October 11 for peacefully protesting corporate greed. This includes Scott Olsen, the Operation Iraqi Freedom vet who was shot in the face with a teargas canister at Occupy Oakland, getting a fractured skull for wanting to have a voice.

If the government won’t let us talk, won’t let us assemble, won’t let us speak the truth or ask questions, they should zap our memories the way that Will Smith did in the movie “Men In Black.” They are letting our brothers and sisters kill themselves and sleep under bridges and drink and drug themselves to death. They sent us to war and let us peek behind that big governmental curtain; now they expect us to shut our mouths? They should have taken us out back and shot us.