The Problem with Wars
How to help our veterans and allies
Helping Our Veterans
Now that the PACT Act has been passed, it’s all about making sure it is implemented in a way that ensures veterans can access their care and benefits in a simple and timely manner.
Register eligible veterans
The process for getting veterans who served near burn pits their benefits is now a lot more streamlined. However, it still involves navigating some government bureaucracy. So if there’s anyone in your life who is eligible for benefits under the PACT Act, tell them what you’ve learned and offer to help them get the process going.
Burn Pits 360 and other Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) will also be closely watching how the VA implements these reforms and making sure they’re giving veterans what they’ve been promised. So keep your eyes on their calls to action and reach out to your representatives when you’re needed.
Other issues facing vets
Burn pit exposure is far from the only issue our vets are confronting. They struggle with unemployment and homelessness. They’re also at higher risk for substance abuse, mental health conditions, and suicide. (If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.)
There are many organizations out there helping veterans navigate their lives and health after service. Many of them have volunteer opportunities, if you have time you can donate — that might mean making phone calls or helping vets to fill out paperwork, but every organization has different needs. So if you’ve got special skills (anything from house painting to fundraising), offer them up. You can find local groups by searching in your area or connect with a VSO that’s helping vets on a national level:
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Helping Our Afghan Allies
As we learned in our episode, we need to push our government to make the process for getting our Afghan allies on a path to U.S. citizenship more streamlined. You can start by reaching out to your representatives in support of the Afghan Adjustment Act and follow its path through Congress here.
If you’d like to learn more about the larger effort to support our Afghan allies, here are a few organizations worth checking out:
The Real Cost of War
Fixing our treatment of both our veterans and our allies in the long run, as Admiral Michael Mullen explained in one of our panels, means Americans having skin in the game. That goes for regular people like us (many of whom could be drafted, don’t forget), but it’s also about the powers that run the military industrial complex. The politicians who’ve sent us to war and the defense contractors who run these wars aren’t the ones sending their kids into battle. These contractors only stand to profit, quite literally, from going to war. Meanwhile, some of the most marginalized Americans are the ones who are shipped off to fight on the front lines.
It’s an uphill battle, given that congressmen are outnumbered by defense industry lobbyists, so it’s got to be an ongoing effort to change the conversation around war and pushing politicians to dismantle the military industrial complex. Here are a few places to get you started:
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft