Memorial Day is a day to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country.
Veterans have put service to the country first, ahead of their own lives and welfare, and their contributions must be honored even when we disagree with the actions of their political leaders. As President I pledge to work to ensure that veterans receive the assistance and deep respect they are entitled to.
Memorial Day is also a day to reflect on the horrific and tragic burden of death, destruction and suffering caused by war, and to commit to avoid needless violence in the future. Since WWII the US has sought to impose its agenda, both political and economic, by maintaining an overwhelming military force across the globe. This is bankrupting us economically and morally. It has also mired us in incessant warfare, increased terrorism and undercut our national security. U.S. wars since 2001 will cost $6 trillion by the time care for wounded veterans is paid, a $75,000 cost inflicted on the average American household. Yet for all this staggering cost, we have only catastrophic results to show for it: failed states, mass refugee migrations and worse terrorist threats. It is time to choose a different path that will bring economic prosperity at home and an era of international law, human rights and peace abroad.
We must also ensure that our Veterans receive proper medical treatment and care. Improved medical intervention and treatment in the battle zones has reduced the rate of fatalities but it has greatly increased the number of survivors with major long term medical needs. Adequate care has not been provided to deal with new medical problems from the recent Middle East war, including exposure to depleted uranium and post traumatic stress.
Veterans also need adequate pay; their families should not need to rely on food stamps to feed themselves. Veterans should also receive better assistance in meeting their education, employment and housing needs upon returning to civilian life.
On Memorial Day, I especially honor Veterans for Peace (VFP), an organization of military veterans and allies who are building a culture of peace. These veterans have seen the horror of war with their own eyes, and are challenging our politicians over their disastrous foreign policy based on economic and military domination. VFP informs the public of the true causes and costs of war, and our obligation to heal the wounds of war.
VFP has helped clarify the disastrous consequences of US militarism:
- The invasion of Iraq to secure access to oil killed one million people, produced a failed state and created conditions for the rise of ISIS.
- The increased use of drone warfare during the Obama administration is killing many innocent civilians, with an Afghanistan study revealing that a staggering 90% of those killed were unintended targets.
- Society’s most vulnerable – children, seniors, the poor – are the biggest victims of modern warfare. And it is often the poor that are recruited to fight such wars.
The work of VFP includes educating the public, advocating for a dismantling of the war economy, providing services that assist veterans and victims of war, and most significantly, working to end all wars.
Towards that end, I support making wars for oil obsolete, by creating an emergency transition to 100% clean, renewable energy, through a Green New Deal. This enables us to cut the dangerous, bloated military budget by at least 50% and reinvest this money in true security at home – including a massive jobs creation program, a green energy transition, public transportation, education, infrastructure, and public health. The Green New Deal also ensures a just transition for workers in the fossil fuel and war industries to good paying, quality jobs in the green economy.
Jill Stein, May 30, 2016