Harvest of shame

Congress should ask Gen. David Petraeus exactly what America must do for our troops, military families and veterans as a great nation fighting two wars with repeated scandals in our treatment of troops and vets.

Last week we learned that much of the body armor for troops might not have been adequately tested. Every day brings news of more failures, shortcomings and unmet long-term needs of vets that total more than $500 billion.

Around Thanksgiving of 1960, Edward R. Murrow broadcast his famous documentary about injustice against migrant workers in America. In “Harvest of Shame,” Murrow called to the conscience of America with the brilliant journalism and moral outrage that is absent today.

In our wars, 1 percent of the nation bears 99 percent of the sacrifice and 100 percent of the casualties while we de-finance our support for troops through tax cuts during wartime, an outrage unprecedented in the history of wartime America.

When the Marine Corps pathologist speaks of preventable casualties, this harvest of shame means that American heroes were killed or wounded not only because of enemy fire, but because of our failure to give them protections against enemy fire.

Is this not the moral equivalent of negligent homicide, when we could prevent many casualties, but do not?

It is our harvest of shame when we don’t send troops body armor and protected vehicles to save their lives. It is our harvest of shame to use terms like “preventable casualties” and “scandals of wounded troops,” while many psychological wounds will not be adequately cared for during the lifetimes of American heroes.

It is our harvest of shame when vet centers are underfunded, young veterans face unemployment twice the national average, veteran suicides rise, and the number of homeless heroes increases while some give all, others give much, many give nothing and some profit handsomely from the wars.

Important work has been done by Dana Priest of The Washington Post, Armen Keteyian of CBS and Bob Woodruff of ABC but where is the Murrow-like leadership from network anchors and why were these issues never discussed during presidential debates or political talk shows?

We Americans are a good, great, wonderfully generous and patriotic people who are sold short by a slacker generation of leaders who fail to summon us to join the cause, to end this harvest of shame. Let’s do it.

First, I renew my proposal of a year ago for a Patriot Bond, which would work like the U.S. Savings Bond and be modeled after the war bonds of the 1940s. It would rally the patriotism of the nation, make our people a national band of brothers and sisters and raise $500 billion over 30 years to address the needs of vets and military families.

Second, let’s pass the bill by Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Chuck HagelChuck HagelHagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill Hagel to next president: We need to sit down with Putin MORE (R-Neb.) and many Democrats and Republicans for a new GI Bill worthy of a nation whose troops fight two wars. Sen. McCain, you have done much, but why are you not yet supporting this bill and urging Republican leaders to renounce any possible filibuster against it?

I propose Sens. Obama, Clinton and McCain join together in a call to arms to the nation, through my Patriot Bond idea or any other, sounding a trumpet that summons us again, for a nation ready to answer the call.
 
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit and as contributing editor of Fighting Dems News Service. He can be read on The Hill Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.