Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Please, Stop Thanking Me For My Service

Please, Stop Thanking Me For My Service
by: Raf Noboa
Tue Aug 28, 2007 at 11:42:50 AM EDT

Today, people all around the country will come together to demand an end to the Iraq War. It's not the first time, nor will it be the last. People demanded an end to the madness before the war even began, in February of 2003, and the demands have only grown since then.

In the crowd, you may run into a veteran or two. You'll thank them for what they've done, and then you'll both be in your way. That's all to the good; we willingly undertook what was, at best, a difficult task, and pledged to see it through, no matter the cost.

"To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan." Those are the words that are inscribed upon the gates of the Department of Veterans' Affairs in Washington, DC. Indeed, those words make up the entirety of the Department's mission. Those words are what we, as veterans, expect from our nation upon our return. It's what we expect from our elected leaders, the same leaders that make the fateful decision to commit us to war.

It's one thing for an ordinary American to thank me for my service; I appreciate the wishes. It's another thing entirely for the people I helped elect to office to offer those words, and simply leave it at that.

Too many times, that's all we've gotten: "so long, and thanks for all the service!" We can do better--we must do better. We're not asking for much; we're asking that, having laid down our weapons, we receive the care we've so dearly earned.

That care isn't limited to medical care, whether physical or mental; it extends to housing care, so that veterans my age (I'm 30) aren't living on the streets; it extends to financial care, so that veterans aren't faced with a choice between sacrificing their service or their families; it extends to educational care, so that veterans have a chance at earning an education worthy of their service.

In short, I'm asking the people that I'm helping elect to build a nation worthy of our service and our sacrifice.

I've been writing online since 2001; this has been one of the most difficult essays I've written yet. It's not in my nature to ask or plead, either on my behalf or others. The depth of frustration that I feel, however, is immense. I'm simply tired of seeing one elected official after another, on both sides of the partisan divide, congratulate me and thank me for my service, and then fail to do anything past that.

Please, stop thanking me for my service; and start letting my service spur you to build a nation worthy of it.
Raf Noboa

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