iLocalNews Louisville is your best source of news and information about Derby City.
- Professional Journalist
Today we celebrate Veterans Day, and it might be a good time to look at the way our veterans are treated. We may disagree, from time to time, concerning our country's decision to use military force as an instrument of foreign policy. Our leaders are not always prudent. The need for military intervention is often not clear. But it is the job of the armed forces is to obey orders, not to make policy.
Like many of my generation, I was called upon to serve my country. I was one of the fortunate; the Army in its wisdom decided I would be of more use in a clerical (as opposed to combat) occupation. While it is certainly true that I am not ashamed of my two years in the Army, it is also true that I not really proud, either.
A person who makes a difficult decision and volunteers to serve his country is justified in expressing a degree of pride in his choice. A person who serves as the result of being conscripted has a somewhat diminished right to claim this pride. I was drafted during Viet Nam. My father was drafted during World War II, and his father was drafted during World War I. None of us was particularly thrilled by the experience.
Today we celebrate the end of my grandfather's war--the war to end all wars. We are now at a point in time when there are no American survivors of that war remaining alive for us to honor. Frank Woodruff Buckles, who died on February 27, 2011, was the last surviving American veteran of World War I.
Our hats are off to all the men and women who have fought our country's battles. Even when foolish politicians have sent you off to foreign jungles and deserts you've fought bravely, often displaying amazing valor and resourcefulness. While politicians have taken the credit, or tried to avoid the blame, the armed forces have shed real blood around the globe.
So how has America rewarded those who have fought our country's battles? I think it might be interesting to compare the way that society rewards those who fight and die for their country with the way the court system compensates "victims." Some comparisons borrowed from the website The Daily Outrage are illustrative:
"If the veteran, as the result of service-connected disability, has suffered the anatomical loss or loss of use of one or more creative organs, or one foot, or one hand, or both buttocks, or blindness of one eye, having only light perception, or has suffered complete organic aphonia with constant inability to communicate by speech, or deafness of both ears, having absence of air and bone conduction, the rate of compensation therefor shall be $70 per month for each such loss but in no event to exceed $3,093 per month." --United States Code, Title 38, Section 1110(k)
To translate from the legalese, if a soldier stepped on a mine and had his foot blown off, being maimed for life, he would receive $70 per month. If he lost one hand, one foot, one ear, complete loss of hearing, and both his buttocks were blown away he would receive an amount "in no event to exceed $3,093 per month."
On the other hand, if they were a Navy aviator like Paula Coughlin and they were "harassed" as part of the Tailhook scandal, then their compensation would be $5 million. Coughlin was not physically injured, but suffered "psychological trauma." (This award was upheld by an appeals court jury.)
"If the veteran, as the result of service-connected disability, has suffered the anatomical loss or loss of use of both feet, or of one hand and one foot, or is blind in both eyes, with 5/200 visual acuity or less, or is permanently bedridden or so helpless as to be in need of regular aid and attendance, the monthly compensation shall be $2,207." --United States Code, Title 38, Section 1110(l)
On the other hand, Alonzo Jackson was awarded $850,000 when an Eddie Bauer security guard forced him to remove a shirt the guard thought was stolen. Jackson cried on the stand when he reenacted the trauma of removing his shirt for the jury. Two friends of the crying boy (who were forced to stand in a corner) were each awarded $75,000.
"If the veteran, as the result of service-connected disability, has suffered the anatomical loss or loss of use of both arms at levels, or with complications, preventing natural elbow action with prostheses in place, has suffered the anatomical loss of both legs so near the hip as to prevent the use of prosthetic appliances, or has suffered the anatomical loss of one arm and one leg so near the shoulder and hip as to prevent the use of prosthetic appliances, or has suffered the anatomical loss of both eyes, or has suffered blindness without light perception in both eyes, the monthly compensation shall be $2,768." --United States Code, Title 38, Section 1110(n)
Like Alonzo Jackson, four female employees at a Hardee's were also forced to remove some clothing by their female supervisors as part of a search for stolen money. The four women were awarded $901,900.
What about a soldier who makes the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and dies in battle? How is his family compensated for the loss? Depending on the soldier's rank, his grieving family may receive anywhere from $769 per month to $1,636 per month.
On the other hand, the parents of Sergio Jiminez were awarded $262,500,000 as a result of the death of their six-year-old. Mr. and Mrs. Jiminez did not put their child in a seat belt, and they may have run a red light leading to the accident. The South Carolina jury thought that Chrysler did not adequately design a latch on the Jimenez's minivan.
To summarize, if veterans serving their country:
•Lose a hand or foot they get $70 per month.
•Go blind or lose both feet or both hands: $2,207 per month.
•Lose both legs: 2,768 per month.
•Die: Maximum of $1,636 per month for surviving family.
On the other hand, if you're a woman or minority and you can get "victim status" the awards are dramatically different:
•If you're a female officer harassed by your fellow officers: $5,000,000.
•If you're black and you cry because you had to take off your shirt in public: $850,000.
•If you're a woman and had to take off your shirt in private: $225,475.
•If you're Hispanic, don't put your child in a seat belt, run a red light, and the child dies: $262,500,000.
Is this the America our parents and grandparents died to defend?
God and the soldier, we adore
In time of danger, not before,
The danger passed and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.