Another thing that’s apparently not the government’s job: Taking care of the soldiers it employs

First there’s the VA’s failure to acknowledge or treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among Iraq war veterans, and then there’s another round of cuts in veterans’ benefits, especially health care.  Now apparently the government is too cheap to pay for phone service in VA facilities: see the appeal from Working Assets to purchase phone cards so wounded service personnel can call home from the hospital. 

This posting is about the nonprofit sector only in the sense that it’s about something the sector shouldn’t be doing.  Notwithstanding the generous impulses of the people at Working Assets and affiliated charities, making sure soldiers and veterans can phone home from the hospital–making sure they’re paid enough to be able to phone home, not to mention pay the rent on a home, heat a home and support their children in a home–is not the nonprofit sector’s job.  Why?  Because it’s not an act of charity–it’s a debt we all owe to people who work(ed) for us. 

That point seems lost on the current Republican Congress, which seems to believe that anything provided by the commonwealth to any of its members is in the nature of a gift–unless, of course, it’s being direct-deposited to Halliburton’s bank accounts.  Democrats understand that society owes something to its citizens, a debt that needs to be paid.  So Republicans have a lot of nerve accusing Democrats of being indifferent to national security: it’s not Democrats who decided that clothing or arming or nursing or paying the people who actually make us secure constitutes "wasteful spending."

And boy was I mistaken in pitying Barack Obama for being stuck on a backwater Senate committee like Veterans’ Affairs.  If he talks about nothing else for the next two years, that could be the best thing that ever happened to him, and to us. 


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