If you cannot take care of your warriors, don't go to war: Bernie Sanders slams ill-treatment of veterans

If you cannot take care of your warriors, don't go to war: Bernie Sanders slams ill-treatment of veterans
Bernie Sanders (Source : Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on September 15 tweeted saying if the US cannot take care of its war veterans, it should not go to war. The Vermont senator’s tweet came just days after an ailing Navy veteran in Carson City, Nevada, told him that he would kill himself as he found it very difficult to pay off his humongous medical bills. 

On September 13, the indebted veteran, John Weigel, told Sanders at the local town hall that his Tricare was taken away and it left him with bills worth $139,000. When Sanders asked John who had Stage-4 Huntington’s on how he was going to pay the bill, he conceded that it was beyond his reach and he was going to commit suicide. Sanders then told him that he was not going to take the drastic step. He also assured him that he would have a talk with him after the event got over.

Sanders later said the case of the former Navy corpsman, who fought in Kuwait and Somalia, was not unique in the US today. According to a report by CBS News, about 20 veterans kill themselves in the US every day because of reasons like financial hardships and broken relationships and, in a year, that figure reaches up to 6,000. A hotline launched in 2007 to address the problem has answered over 3.5 million calls and sent help to nearly 100,000 people.


Sanders' tweet 

With the US’ war on terrorism far from over even after 18 years of its launch and threats snowballing in places like Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Russia, Washington’s foreign policy is not going to be free of war-centric thoughts anytime soon even with President Donald Trump at the helm. The massive attack on two oil installations in Saudi Arabia recently, disrupting the global trade in the liquid gold, has also made the situation look potentially grim. Sanders’ tweet certainly connects the dots, summarizing both the local and foreign situations related to the country’s war personnel - their selfless services and the deserving rights.

The 78-year-old Sanders, known for his Left-leaning credentials, has always been an opponent of military use. He is of the opinion that military power should always be the final resort. According to him, the US military is too large and too much money is spent on the forces. The armed forces have been increasingly called upon in recent years to prolonged engagements around the world even if the country’s security is not threatened. 


That Sanders was always concerned about the well-being of the men in uniform was evident as early as 1991 when he had arrived in Washington DC as a Congressman for the first time. Although he had been working on issues like national living wage, universal healthcare or labor unions, the first bill that he had introduced was H.R.695 - the Guard and Reserve Family Protection Act of 1991. The legislation aimed at granting the reserve and National Guard soldiers who were sent to the Gulf War that year any pay they had missed while fighting abroad. Sanders is seen as one of those leaders who never forget to support the soldiers even while opposing wars.

“He works for veterans. He’s not just saying that. He does do the work,” Brenda Cruickshank, a retired Army nurse who served as commander of the Vermont Veterans of Foreign Wars, was quoted as saying by Politico.

Sanders’s tweet, however, had its critics with many thinking he was talking as a staunch socialist and did not care for national security.


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