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Defending American Veterans

A Pastoral Letter

Bishop James Alan Wilkowski
Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

When an individual either enlists or is drafted into the United States Military, they take the following Oath:

"I, (name) do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America and will defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic, and will obey the orders of the President and the officers appointed over me, so help me God."
 

Those who take this Oath begin a service of protecting the security of the United States of America and its citizens.  These men and women become our personal defenders against the forces and power of evil within the world.  These men and women assume the duties assigned to them unconditionally and will put their lives on the line for our personal welfare and for the welfare of our country.  Some men and women choose to make the military their professional career.  Some, most - elect to return to civilian life once they have completed their "tour of duty."  Regardless of how long one remains within the ranks of the military, there comes a time when they do indeed return to the civilian world.

The purpose of this Pastoral is to discuss the morally and ethically shoddy treatment given to our American Military Veterans by both the government in which they served and by the society they protected.

In ancient Roman civilization, those who returned home from military service were treated with great respect and also afforded modest considerations to ensure that their lives would be comfortable.  The ancient Roman government and its citizens treated their soldiers with gratitude and respect.

Many veterans still find segments of American ungrateful and indifferent to them and to their post-military needs.  Many of these men and women have come home to us with serious needs.  The ongoing indifference to their needs is a moral and sinful crisis with no sign of abatement. 

Many of these men and women have come home to us with serious physical and psychological injuries.  These injuries came as a result from their unconditional obedience to the orders given to them.  These soldiers sustained what civilians call "work related juries."  In civilian life, those who sustain work related injuries have laws to protect them and to guarantee them legal and financial relief for their pain and suffering.  It is a sinful and moral shame that our society and government are not equally as concerns about the "work related injuries" of the military as they are of civilians.

Many of our soldiers have returned home needing ongoing medical care.  The needs of these Veterans are often overlooked and their medical conditions often ignored.  Much has been made by officials from the Veterans Administration about how they have upgraded and streamlined their programs.  How moral and ethical is an upgraded or streamlined system when it closes out available hospital beds, treatment programs and clinics and raises barriers between veterans and medical care?

Is it really asking too much to tend to the wounds of those who have defended us against all enemies foreign and domestic?

For our government and its appointed agencies to state that it is impossible to provide housing to our homeless veterans is not true.  Our society tears down multi-unit housing on a near daily basis for some new construction.  Why can't some of these multi-housing complexes be converted into dignified housing for our homeless veterans?  Is it because local residents and developers don't want to have "them" living in our re-designed neighborhoods?  Why can't voucher assistance be provided to private landlords to house our homeless veterans in their private buildings?

Is it really asking too much to quarter those who have defended us against all enemies foreign and domestic?

I believe that all American Veterans with "good paper" are entitled to the same considerations which are given to retired politicians.  Look and see what retired Senators, Representatives, Governors and Presidents are entitled to upon retirement.  Generations of politicians have made sure their retirement years are very comfortable and secure.  I invite anyone to study up the pension programs of such retired politicians.  It is rather sad to see that those who once held the constitutional power to declare war and send our military off to fight wars have failed to provide returning veterans with the care and provisions they have provided for themselves.

Is it really asking too much?

In recent years many high school and college students have once again opted into joining the ROTC.  In time, a very high percentage of these young people enter into the active ranks of military service.  The ROTC programs have worked very hard to convince young people of the value of a career in the military.  If I were a young person considering the military as a possible career, I would hope that someone would point out to me the realities faced by many returning to civilian life.  The indifference of our government and society towards our veterans would make me think twice about entering into a lifelong career in the military.

I call upon our government to fully address the needs of our American Veterans.  These men and women took an oath to protect and defend our government and country.  The current state of indifference towards our veterans is morally wrong and must come to an end now.

May God bless those who have defended us and grant them peace, security and happiness in their lives.

 

Respectfully Yours in Christ,

Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest
Chicago, Illinois

April 23, 2004 - The Feast of Saint George

 

National Church Office
Post Office Box 178388  Chicago Illinois  60617-8388
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evcathchurch@evangelicalcatholicchurch.org
2011