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Veterans & terrorism: An American issue
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
This is response to Ms Mulvhill’s letter concerning Ms Winston’s son who is in the Marines. To start with, the person who wished death on Ms Winston’s son has a warm place in hell reserved for him. I cannot imagine why anyone in their right mind would wish something like death on any one, but especially a young man who volunteered to risk his life for his country.

I do take issue with Ms Mulvhill’s comment of the Domestic Terrorist report that Ms. Napolitano released early in her position. Ms Mulvhill implies that this report was somehow intended to disrespect veterans for pointing out that the report cited a 2008 FBI report from the Bush administration in which the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division found with “[h]igh confidence” that various right wing domestic terrorist groups had signs of military training.  Ms. Napolitano did not commission the report, nor did she personally generate the report, she just released the report that was generated by her predecessor at the DHS, who was appointed by President Bush. On January 26, 2009, a similar report concerning left wing domestic terrorism was released as well to little fanfare.

With all due respect to Ms. Mulvhill, and to her brother who is a 26-year veteran, I think the real point that should be addressed is why are some veterans upon returning home so disenfranchised that they would join these terrorist groups. It may be that these young people served their country in unbearable conditions, only to come home and be forgotten. As an example, the unemployment rate for those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since September 2001 was 7.3 percent.

Another reason can be that after being subjected to extreme levels of stress from combat conditions, they are returned home without the proper psychological evaluations and treatment. Suicide rates among young veterans are at record levels. Conflict resolution is through violence in a war zone, and it is not something that can be turned on and off with ease. This method of conflict resolution comes home with them, and it inhibits their ability to resolve issues with loved ones without resorting to violence. This isn’t an opinion; we saw much of this after other prolonged wars. One in four homeless people is a veteran even though veterans make up 11% of the population, and about 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness and (with considerable overlap) slightly more than 70% suffer from alcohol or other drug abuse problems.

People who feel neglected turn to those who sympathize with them.  We see this with young people who join gangs. They find a place that respects them, even if they are being used. The FBI found that this is the case with some veterans, like Timothy McVeigh. Domestic Terrorism that incorporates veterans is not a Republican issue, or a Democrat issue; it’s an American issue. We need to find ways to welcome these fine young people back into our society, and address the issues that they are dealing with that lead them to the circumstances that I have presented.  These aren’t issues that their family can necessarily help them address. These young people have seen and did things that they sometimes cannot speak about because people who have not been in war cannot relate to it. Our military budget is $533 billion, but only 25% goes toward the soldiers. We need to increase the percentage that is spent on those who are sacrificing for this country, and provide those who need it with the means to avoid the negative conditions that some come home to. We can’t use them and then throw them away.

As for the jerk in the pickup that wished death on the young Marine, I hope you like hot weather, because where you are going, there are no air conditioners.

Scott Saldowski
June 24, 2009