Some context for our next installment of the Reid-Knox Forum
I wanted to give everyone a little background on how the Veterans Day Forum has evolved and welcome comments before we go further. As background I should point out I am a member of only one veterans’ organization, Veterans for Peace. We are not a simple organization of wartime buddies getting together at our local clubhouse, like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) – which has an Alma building on Wright near the Masonic Pathways. I don’t say we’re different to be critical of the VFW, only to make clear we are not the same. We had our origins in something once called Vietnam Veterans Against the War, only to evolve with wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. in our current name.
When some of you suggested we do something for Veterans Day, I turned to a local Vietnam Vet, who is not in Veterans for Peace, Tim Caldwell, who taught music for many years at CMU ad who worked with me on the Confederate flag forum in August. Tim wrote a very moving book on his service in Vietnam and has agreed to do a reading from one of his essays at the start of the Veterans Day forum. But, we wanted to get a younger veteran and I already had gotten emails from Veterans for Peace promoting Veterans Day ideas. So I called and they said Leah Bolger was free and would be glad to speak via zoom from her home in Oregon.
Leah retired in 2000 from the U.S. Navy at the rank of Commander after twenty years of active duty service. She became extremely critical of Bush’s foreign policy and eventually became the first women to head Veterans for Peace. She would prefer to speak on our foreign and military policy, especially spending on ‘defense.’
She, suggested, after Tim does his reading, I describe briefly the Restoring Armistice Day issue and then she would speak followed with open discussion. But, I must emphasize you would be hearing three veterans who are critics. This would not be a ‘rah rah’ war event. But it is very much in keeping with the current movement to restore Armistice Day. So I want to explain what that movement is about.
Restoring the day to its original purpose – to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans – especially remembering those who died in service arises from the late 20th Century conversion into a ‘support the troops’ and our foreign policy. You may recall the most extreme version of this was Trump’s proposal for a big military parade in Washington (after he saw a French military parade).
Armistice Day began as a celebration of peace. The date was picked because Nov. 11, 1918 was the day the fighting in World War I ended – at 11:00 a.m. Since that day, 102 years ago, the day has been observed in all the countries that fought in that war. In countries like Canada it was and is called Remembrance Day. With that name, after the 1940s with all the World War II vets, places like Canada didn’t need to change the name of the holiday. Because the U.S. had chosen the name Armistice Day, named for the Nov. 11, 1918 event – the Armistice, in the 1950s Congress renamed the day Veterans Day. But, for a time it continued as a day to recall service, sacrifice and peace. But, slowly, our foreign and military policy makers have pushed it into being a celebration of military might.
One of the great critics of this change was Kurt Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse Five, a novel based on his experiences as a soldier and POW during World War II. Vonnegut wrote:
November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred?
Rory Fanning, a veteran of the Iraq War, explained his preference for Armistice Day in this way, “Armistice Day was a hallowed anniversary because it was supposed to protect future life from future wars. Veterans Day, instead, celebrates ‘heroes’ and encourages others to dream of playing the hero themselves, covering themselves in valor.”
Sorry this has been so long, but this leads to the question: Do we want to be the sponsor of this type forum? Is it too critical a topic for us? A few members of the Clinton County Democratic Party who know of Leah are enthused - but maybe they are not typical.
To the Editor:
I would like to submit the following article as a “Guest View” on the topic of veteran’s PTSD and the rising incidence of veteran suicide. As you read the article you will realize how personal the issue is for our family, yet we feel that others might be helped by this sharing. We as community and we as government must do more for our veterans. Thank you for your consideration.
Karen Garvey, Democratic candidate for State Representative, District 70
On November 11, 2020, we will observe Veterans Day. Citizens will pay tribute to veterans living and deceased who have served our country with honor. I write to ask that we do more this year as the numbers of veterans with PTSD and those who commit suicide continues to rise. We need to work together as communities and with government services to reverse this awful trend. It is personal to me.
In October, 2019, my son-in-law, Joe, lost his battle with PTSD by committing suicide. As painful as our loss remains, we recognize that his pain, his struggle, was far worse as he never would have wanted to leave his beautiful wife and two young sons on their own.
Joe entered the Marines ready to serve and he did so honorably. Joe was ecstatic over the birth of his first son, singing and lifting him up to a bright future, a “Lion King” gesture. Four years later, for the birth of his second son, that jubilant Joe was replaced by a happy, but subdued, quieter civilian Joe. We didn’t realize the depth of his trauma or realize how difficult his struggle with PTSD really was until after he ended his life.
Once out of service, Joe struggled with civilian life. He found that his military training and skills didn’t translate well in finding a good-paying job. Through friends, he was able to interview with Consumers Energy, an employer willing to take a chance to hire this “unskilled” (non-degree) veteran. Joe felt better knowing that he was making a wage that could support his family. Yet his quiet suffering continued, controlled somewhat with pills, but unresolved. He tried to minimize it, saying, “Marines don’t whine, there are others worse off than me.” So, in addition to his suffering, he also felt guilt about feeling or showing that pain.
While this tragedy is personal to our family, we are just one of MANY stories of military loss. Joe had veteran friends who were also coping with PTSD and depression, some also taking their own lives. Veterans shouldn’t have to carry their fight home. I’ve talked with veterans and vet families who are struggling. As they settle into civilian life, many vets don’t feel heard, supported or valued. This isn’t about medals or salutes or gracious words—it starts with listening and caring and providing a broader base of community support.
More can be done to transition troops from active duty to civilian life. Once in a civilian setting, families and vets need continued education and help to learn about and watch for the signs of depression and PTSD. Veterans need more local access to medical and psychological services, as transportation can also be a problem. There are things we can do. We as citizens need to ask more of our legislators, more of the military and more of ourselves to support our veterans.
Montcalm County has a veteran population of 4,329. Before the millage passed in June, there were no veteran support groups offered by the county, no assistance for emergency dental services and only one vehicle to transport veterans to VA appointments. Beyond passing the millage, we can work in other ways to help our veterans locally and state-wide. We need to be in contact with legislators to promote legislation that supports veterans. We can contact the Montcalm County Department of Veterans Affairs to see how to directly support area veterans. Let’s use this Veteran’s Day as a call to action and then work together to amplify the voices of our veterans, especially in memory of those who no longer have a voice.
The Devil is in the Details!
Here are some basics that may help you understand some important issues in 2020:
1. Worker protections: The protection of workers’ health and safety and the right to have some say in working conditions has been opposed by Republicans since at least Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The U.S. Department of Labor is the basic government agency originally set up to help workers. Two parts of the Labor Department have been used by Trump to undermine worker protections:
3. Payroll tax holiday: Trump and the Republicans have used the pandemic as the newest excuse to attack Social Security, which gets its funds through the payroll tax that on average is about 7 percent. The current payroll tax holiday idea is simply a delayed collection of the tax that all regular workers would be required to pay back in 2021. But the big threat of the tax holiday is to start undermining the funding for Social Security and Medicare-- the devil is in the details. Democrats focus on protecting Social Security, not stealing from it! Take a close look at Joe Biden’s Social Security proposals here.
4. Health care: Trump and the Republicans have waged a relentless war against Democratic efforts to control the cost of health care, expand health coverage, and protect health care workers. They have also dramatically diminished the leadership of U.S. medical science in the world. Through lawsuits they are trying to end protections for young adults who can currently stay on their parents’ health insurance coverage until age 26, and they are threatening to end access to health insurance by those with pre-existing conditions. Trump and Republicans use words like choice and freedom to gloss over changes that will undermine protections of access for working families to affordable, state of the art care – the devil is in the details. Dems want health care access protected and support science-based health policy -- especially related to COVID. See a detailed comparison of where the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates stand on health care here.
5. Essential workers: Trump and the Republicans repeatedly have shown disregard for the safety and family needs of workers in health care, public safety, commerce and education. They failed to give priority to procuring or producing the massive amounts of personal protective equipment that were needed to protect frontline workers. They have not supported wage enhancements to guarantee essential workers have help for child care when schools have closed, nor have they provided support for teachers – especially for teachers who happen to be parents of school-aged children to meet the burdens from remote teaching and schooling. Once again, they talk big about our “heroes” but the devil is in the details, and Trump and Republicans have proven they do not support these workers. Democrats, in contrast, are prepared with a four-point plan to protect and support esse
A Brief Look at the Facts
As you may have heard, Mid Michigan College (Mid) will have two propositions on the November ballot asking residents of the Gratiot-Isabella RESD (GI-RESD) if they would like to officially join our district. We wanted to provide you with some factual information that will help you make an informed decision when you vote this November. When we talk about our proposal in the community, we typically receive two general questions:
1) What are the benefits?
2) What are the costs?
1. If the proposal passes, Gratiot-Isabella residents will pay the in-district tuition rate which is 40% less than the out-district rate they currently pay;
2. Per Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), for every $1 of public money invested in Mid, taxpayers will receive a cumulative value of $5.50 over the course of the students’ working lives (a 12.5% return on investment);
3. Mid has an annual impact of $69.2 million on the local community and supports 1 out of every 43 jobs...these numbers will increase significantly with higher enrollment as a result of lower tuition; 4. If the proposal passes Mid will bring $3.11 million in additional annual revenue, but students will collectively save nearly $2 million annually through the reduction of tuition.
1. Mid's current millage rate is 1.2232 mills (the second lowest community college millage rate in Michigan) which means for every $1000 in ASSESSED home value (this is about 1/2 of the fair market home value), residents will pay $1.2232;
2. For the average home in Isabella County, it will cost approximately $69.31/year; 3. For the average home in Gratiot County, it will cost approximately $54.62/year;
4. For a student that enrolls full-time (24 credits) for just one year, they will save $2112 in tuition (using 2020-21 rates), which is more than what the average GI-RESD resident will pay in 30 years of taxes to support Mid at its current millage rate.
In our view the benefits significantly outweigh the costs. We hope you will support us this November by checking "Yes" to both proposals: (A) joining our district; (B) allowing us to assess our millage rate of 1.2232 mills. Both proposals must pass with a majority "Yes" to officially join Mid Michigan College's district. If you would like additional information please visit our website at www.midmich.edu/annexation or e-mail us at email@example.com. Thank you very much for your consideration.
Here are some links to a variety of videos meant to help you understand and connect to some of the most important topics we are dealing with right now.