One year ago, in May 2020, two things had become clear. #1, the Democratic Party was moving far to the left, and #2, it was becoming obvious that Joe Biden would be the Democratic candidate for President. At the Coalition for American Veterans, we warned about the danger this posed – that this could mean a return to the Obama-Biden policies of neglect, disrespect, and mistreatment of America’s veterans.
Around the same time, the COVID-19 virus was spreading across America and throughout the world. It was obvious that this pandemic would not quickly disappear. Healthcare, of course, was already a crucial issue for veterans. Many veterans have existing conditions, and the VA bureaucracy often did not work well in providing medical treatment. “Mishandling of veteran affairs and care can have devastating effects on both the physical as well as the mental health of those who have served their country,” we wrote in an article at the time.
In the spring and summer of 2020, riots, destruction, and acts of lawlessness broke out across the country, ostensibly in opposition to police brutality. For veterans, who have risked their lives for America, concepts such as “rule of law” and “liberty” and “freedom” and “peaceful protest” are not just abstract concepts, but beloved principles that go to the heart of American patriotism. As the year went on, racial animosities and political divisions were heightened throughout the United States, affecting all Americans, including veterans.
In July, we marked the fifth anniversary of the Obama-Biden administration’s Tomah VA Medical Center scandal with a remembrance event. “The Tomah VA Medical Center scandal may be an unpleasant memory and a difficult subject to discuss,” we wrote at the time of the anniversary. “But it is worth looking back upon the scandal in the light of changes and improvements that have been implemented in the last few years. This is especially true because this year’s presidential election will determine the course of our nation’s policy toward veterans over the next four years.”
In the summer and fall, the presidential election heated up as each party held its national convention and Joe Biden and President Trump debated each other. The healthcare and economic implications of the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns were central issues in the campaign, with disproportionate impact – both medically and economically – on America’s veterans.
The 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America occurred in the context of the Trump Administration’s announcement that troops would finally be withdrawn from Afghanistan. “But perhaps most of all, under the new administration our troops are finally coming home,” the CAV noted in a special article. “Quagmire and stalemate will be replaced by peace. Every veteran, and everyone serving in the military, knows about war. But nobody hates war and seeks peace more than America’s warriors. Peace. Yes, peace. As the nation observes the anniversary of 9/11, for America’s veterans there is no greater honor and no tribute more deserved than peace.” It remains to be seen whether the new Biden administration will quickly and completely implement the withdrawal.
In a bitterly contested and divisive election, Joe Biden was elected President and inaugurated in January. For veterans, who voted 54% to 46% for Trump over Biden, 2021 presents uncertainty and deep concern. Will Biden-Harris pursue a weak foreign policy? Will Biden-Harris return to the Obama-Biden policies which saw corruption and failure at the Veterans Administration? Will Biden-Harris put the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of veterans? Will Biden-Harris put an an end to the economic lockdowns? In November 2020, a “choice” was made, and Joe Biden is now President. But the results of that “choice” will impact our nation throughout 2021 and into the future. For perspective on what veterans and our nation will face over the next four years, watch the Coalition for American Veterans documentary “The Choice.”
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