Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Hurt Soldiers & Veterans

(WPA poster promoting respect for veterans. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

During the New Deal there was a strong effort to help soldiers & veterans. For example, PWA funds and WPA labor were used to improve military bases across the country (e.g., new or improved barracks). Veterans were given opportunities in the Civilian Conservation Corps. And, even when President Franklin Roosevelt chose not to support the early disbursement of bonus payments to World War I veterans, the Democrat-controlled Congress overrode him. (Roosevelt, on some matters, was more conservative than what is generally known/remembered. In this case, Roosevelt supported opportunities for unemployed veterans in the CCC, but not the early disbursement of bonus payments.)  

Today, the story of how we treat our soldiers & veterans is much different. For example, in September of 2012, Senate Republicans blocked legislation to create a new CCC-type program for unemployed veterans. Apparently, to these Senate Republicans, service is a one-way street.    

(A WPA work project to improve roads at Fort Meade, Maryland, in April 1941. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.) 

As if soldiers & veterans are not struggling enough in today's depressed economy (depressed for everyone except for the super-rich of course), a new assault has been unleashed on them. The Republican & Tea Party-created government shutdown is hindering many assistance programs for, and payments to, soldiers & veterans. Furthermore, some financial institutions and debt collectors, in their perpetual pursuit for more money, are targeting our soldiers & veterans for further victimization. 

For a small sampling of how soldiers & veterans are being victimized by political radicals and greedy financial institutions, see:

Now more than ever we need a new New Deal, one that is even bolder than the original. We need a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" (words from a famous Republican), not the plutocracy we have now. 

(Union and Confederate veterans, at the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, September 1937. The WPA performed extensive work at Antietam National Battlefield, and also helped create the 75th anniversary event. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.)  

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