This Memorial Day, we think about the more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead and the tens of thousands wounded in body and mind in a war based on lies, pushed by a clique of right-wing militarists and their corporate backers.
After 9/11, many Americans signed up for military service, wanting to serve their country and defend it from terrorism. Instead, they were sent to invade Iraq, to serve a right-wing/corporate agenda.
So it’s shocking to look at the congressional vote May 15 on a “Post-9/11 GI Bill” — a World War II-style GI Bill for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Republicans pushed the Iraq war and now refuse to end it. Yet only 32 of them voted for the GI Bill. One hundred and fifty-nine GOP House members, including their entire leadership, voted against the bill, which would substantially increase educational benefits for post-9/11 veterans. The bill is backed by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and every leading veterans organization.
Perhaps the Republicans objected to the fact that the bill also extends unemployment benefits for jobless workers who have used up their current benefits? Or maybe the warhawks didn’t like funding New Orleans levees? We’d like to point out that most veterans are workers, and many are jobless too. And building and repairing levees, and other parts of our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, would provide a lot of good jobs.
President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, especially complaining that the GI benefits would be funded by a tiny tax hike for the rich.
Despite the Republicans, the measure passed the House and is now before the Senate. Veterans are demanding that veteran Sen. John McCain vote for the new GI Bill. McCain, who hopes his military service will propel him into the White House, has wrapped himself in Bush’s disastrous war and economic policies.
A good way to mark Memorial Day would be to get this bill passed and signed into law.