Like many Americans, Veteran’s Day has a personal meaning to me.  As a young medical doctor, my father, Louis Jaffe, MD, served in the Army during World War II.  He was a first-born-generation American.  All four of my grandparents were from Russia and Poland. As a Jew, he joined to fight Hitler and the Nazis.

After he joined, he was trained in tropical medicine; he expected to be sent somewhere in the Pacific in the war against the Japanese.  However, using logic only the Army understood, he was then stationed on one of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.  He stayed there until 1944 when, with no explanation, he was summoned to a small town in Tennessee.  The town was Oak Ridge, one of the two locations of the Manhattan Project. (The other location was Los Alamos, New Mexico).  My Dad worked there until 1946 and temporarily became one of the world’s leading experts on the effects of radiation on humans.  I am proud of my father and his extraordinary service to our country.

When I was of the age when military service was possible for me, the Vietnam war was raging and reaching its peak. There was tremendous social and political pressure to resist the war and to resist voluntarily going into the military.  As it turned out, although I was classified I-A (eligible to be drafted), I was medically disqualified from serving. I never had to face being drafted, refusing to be inducted or fleeing to Canada.  So, I never served in military, something I have come to regret.

When I was a child, I remember the way the military was publicly perceived.  Soldiers were heroes.  Men returning from war in Europe, the Pacific or Korea were welcomed warmly.  But things changed with Vietnam. The country’s outrage against the immoral and unnecessary war was wrongly focused on the rank-and-file soldiers who had nothing to do with the political and military decisions which put them in harm’s way.  That fault lay with the Johnson and Nixon administrations.  The soldiers returning from Vietnam were no longer heroes to many; they were cruelly and unjustly taunted as murderers and baby killers.

This was not a good time to be a veteran.  Some good films were made about what it was like to be a Vietnam veteran those days: “Coming Home” and “Born On the Fourth of July” are two of them.

Veterans since Vietnam have had a raw deal from the government.  The VA has been scandalously and negligently understaffed and equipped to do its job, causing the deaths of vets waiting for appointments.   Chest-pounding self-declared Republican “patriots” regularly and hypocritically cut back veterans’ benefits.  And perhaps most importantly, presidents of both parties have sent our men and women into unnecessary and prolonged wars, causing the avoidable deaths and physical destruction of those who serve.  A disgraceful portion of the homeless and mentally ill in the US are military veterans whom we have all let down.

Was Vietnam necessary?  Apparently not, because Vietnam is now the single reunited nation 58,220 Americans died to prevent existing – and that nation shows no intention of attacking or harming us. Was Iraq necessary?  Obviously not.  It was based on a Bush administration lie – the weapons of mass destruction ruse.  Afghanistan?  It was started to wipe out Al Qaeda  and “get” Bin Laden.  But Al Qaeda has been replaced by ISIS and Bin Laden is dead.

Now, the Korean Peninsula is poised to become the latest battlefield.  This policy of the US being in a perpetual state of war must end.  My platform advocates no more such foreign military interventions. The US economy is a war-based economy addicted to ongoing war; it must be turned away from conflict and towards peace. The obscene $700+ billion military budget must be drastically cut and those freed-up funds used to solve the health, education, infrastructure and other urgent problems already existing.

I advocate the full and immediate repair and revitalization of the VA so the men and women who serve in the military are treated with the respect and with the dignity they have earned and deserve.  I am proud to have earned the amazing endorsement of the National Veterans For Bernie organization.… Join me and them to bringing about the changes which are desperately needed for our veterans and for all of us in the future.  — Stephen