Dear Gov. Cooper,
Thank you for your Veterans Day message.
My husband is a Vietnam veteran, and he and I take exception to your statement that veterans put themselves in harm's way "to protect our freedoms and our way of life." That might have been true of the veterans of the Revolution and those who fought in Blue uniforms during our Civil War, but those who have fought in our post-9/11 wars were fighting for nothing more than the protection of corporate interests and US imperial overreach. To state otherwise is to belie the truth and condemn yet another generation to wars that profit no one but the profiteers. Since the signing of the PATRIOT Act, our freedoms are diminishing, and we are far less safe than ever before.
Please, Gov. Cooper, use the influence of your office to help serve the needs of the people here in North Carolina by doing everything within your power to see that our taxes are directed not to the Pentagon but to building true security here at home by providing jobs, living wages, public education and health care for all. That's how you can truly protect our way of life.
Vicki Ryder (Durham)
PS: I hope you'll take a moment to read the following letter from another North Carolina veteran, Matthew Hoh of Wake Forest:
$5.6 trillion, with no end in sight. That’s the cost of America’s wars since 9/11.
But as a Marine who served in Iraq, I don’t need a price tag to tell you about the cost of our wars for veterans like me. I’ve seen for myself the amputations, traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and moral injury that all lead to massively disproportionate levels of suicide, depression, substance abuse, domestic violence and homelessness in veterans returned home from war. And I’ve witnessed the human cost of our wars beyond our borders, in Iraq where I was stationed and for millions around the world.
Today, Veterans Day parades will celebrate the bravery of service members, and I will be remembering those who were alongside me overseas. But before Cold War hysteria took over, November 11th was Armistice Day -- a day for peace. The original Armistice Day marchers, veterans who survived the killing fields of the First World War, carried banners declaring “Never Again.” Imagine if we had listened to those veterans. Instead, our country continues to pour troops into stupid, bloated, and deadly wars.
That’s not honoring or respecting veterans. That’s putting war profits and reckless ideologies over our lives. Please join me in supporting Rep. John Lewis’ call to honor our veterans by accounting for the human, moral, and financial costs of war.
$5.6 trillion by next September works out to $310 billion per year to prop up our endless wars. That’s $23,386 per taxpayer per year. Slice it however you want, it’s an incomprehensibly massive number. And instead of asking ourselves if a single penny is worth it, we just keep freefalling into gargantuan war debt.
As for the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical costs of my time at war -- we won’t ever pay those off. Neither will the friends I remember today who died for a country that won’t acknowledge the cost of their loss. Neither will our families and communities who continue to shoulder the burdens of our service long after we leave the battlefield.
That’s why Rep. John Lewis is speaking up to demand a public, national conversation on war financing. His amendment to Trump’s tax bill would prohibit cutting taxes on the rich -- a loss of revenue that would add right onto our pile of war debt -- until we get our troops out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria and eliminate the war deficit gobbling up our budget.
Thank you for all you do,
Matthew Hoh, Iraq War veteran