Yesterday MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported that, due to the government shutdown, surviving families of US servicemen and servicewomen killed in Afghanistan and Iraq would have to wait until later to receive the $100,000 death benefits to which they were entitled.
Within hours political pundits and politicians from both parties were howling that this was an outrage. Yet neither of them proposed to do anything meaningful to ameliorate it.
This post is directed to those of you who are 17 or 18 years old, and who might have a passing thought to join the US military: don’t. This is why.
Not only is becoming a paid – low-paid – assassin for the US military immoral, it is stupid. When they’re done with you, they throw you away. That’s why the rates of poverty and suicide among veterans is sky high and going up all the time.
At bare minimum, you have the reasonable expectation that they will take care of your family if you pay the ultimate price for your role as a cog in the imperialist war machine, but no. Even when you think about it, $100,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to even a working-class American’s lifetime expected earnings. But when push comes to shove, they don’t even pay that out.
Frankly, there really isn’t any excuse anymore to claim ignorance about this sort of thing. The US military has cheated its veterans going back to the Revolutionary war, when land grants that were promised in the then developing West didn’t materialize. World War I veterans cheated of pay formed the famous Bonus Army in the 1930s, which was wiped out by federal troops as they camped out on the Washington Mall. And anyone who lives through the 1970s and 1980s saw the detritus of the heroes of the Vietnam War littering the streets of New York City and other major metropolises.
Don’t be an idiot. Don’t sign up.