“Boys, I may not know much, but I know chicken poop from chicken salad.” -LBJ
I saw this image on the back of a large distribution truck for Miller beer. I was stopped behind it on my way to work, and I felt slightly disgusted. The image says many things to me. On an advertising level it makes a man in uniform seem brave, obedient, and hard working. That type of man certainly deserves a beer, or two, or three. The soldier is also saluting whoever happens to sit behind the image in traffic. It felt cheap. I certainly don’t deserve to be saluted. Or did I miss it, and I was supposed to salute back, in my mind or otherwise?
I have a deep respect for the military, but advertisements like this coupled with the statistics below make me wonder what I can do or how I should feel.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans:
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that the nation’s homeless veterans are predominantly male, with roughly 8% being female. The majority are single; live in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About 12% of the adult homeless population are veterans.
Roughly 40% of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 10.4% and 3.4% of the U.S. veteran population, respectively.
For years I always offered any homeless man or woman on the street corner, a bit of money, a bottle of water, whatever I had. Then somehow my empathy dried up a little. Instead of giving a few dollars for what would end up being part of a walk to the corner store, I thought to myself that I should let them know where the local shelter was. I never did.
Because America goes off to fight wars (rarely peace-keeping missions) with highly sophisticated assets (if the choose to use them), it is no wonder that as a whole the government finds it hard to muster up true compassion for returning veterans. We are always in a fight mode.
I loathe that we, as a country, don’t take better care of our veterans. On September 10, 2001 Donald Rumsfeld made an announcement that the Pentagon could not account for 2.3 trillion dollars.
That’s a lot of missing money! And somehow I seriously doubt much of it went to combat our homeless veteran problem in this country. That kind of missing money doesn’t vanish over night. What kind of R & D was happening? What kind of catastrophic things were being planned? Why is there no accountability? And without our soldiers who voluntarily enlist to fight our propaganda-ladened wars, we can’t figure out a way to bring them home to a place were promised opportunity abounds?
So, do I give the homeless vet the money for his walk to the corner store, knowing that he has been screwed by the very country that promised him opportunity, who has seen more violence and who has shielded my own eyes from the atrocities of bombs, blood, and pillage? Am I any better than the pathetic attempt of an advertising campaign by giving a few bucks for the homeless guy to buy his cheap beer to forget how his buddy was torn to shreds or how his government screwed him over?