I don't usually make personal New Year's Resolutions. I used to make ones like "lose 10 pounds this year" (just like everyone else). I stopped making them years ago when I realized that to make resolutions was somewhat futile, and I never seemed to be able to lose that 10 pounds.
I do think though, as a country we should make some resolutions. And, unlike my 10 pound quest, we need to stick with them in a hard, systematic fashion. The results of not doing so will be disastrous.
First and foremost, one of our resolutions this year should be to make a commitment as a nation to take care of the troops coming home from repeated tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq (and whatever other countries, if any, the powers that be decide to "engage" this year).
We need to take care of their physical needs, their emotional needs, their psychological needs, their family needs, their spiritual needs, and needs I may have not yet thought of.
I read a piece about Montana Guard vets this weekend - and this is a pretty shocking, disturbing story by itself (and unfortunately one that is repeating itself too frequently in every state):
The Governor of that state (Brian Schweitzer) made a great quote regarding returning vets. He said: "The federal government does a remarkable job of converting a citizen to a warrior, I think they have an equal responsibility converting a warrior back to a citizen." Truer words have not been spoken.
Unfortunately, I believe the "system" that is supposed to take care of these vets is overwhelmed (the VA and Military Treatment Facilities). I have to believe that the people staffing those facilities are probably high quality people, and they do the best that they can. But, what they are faced with is something akin to trying to hold back a bursting dam with a truckload of 50 sandbags. It was not set up for the kind of war that we planned for or got. This leaves a lot of folks outside of the system to try to take care of these folks.
A second resolution would be to support these people financially, and with moral support, and to try to bring awareness to the work they are doing both inside and outside of the system (http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,159196,00.html?wh=news).
Here are a few others to look at:
These are just two of literally hundreds of great organizations. But in that, a caution to be careful and to know who you are donating to.
Another resolution would be to press our leadership to give us straight answers on what we are doing in Iraq. What does victory in Iraq look like? What's the end game? What is the plan to ultimately bring our troops home? Why do we seem to be perpetuating continual unending war instead of looking for peaceful solutions?
These are questions that don't seem to be satisfactorily answered. They are answered with mindless platitudes like "we have to stay the course" and "we are fighting them there so we don't fight them here." Both of these, and other mindless chants do little to give satisfactory answers on how long we are going to have to sacrifice good people, and sacrifice things that could be getting done on the domestic front (i.e. health care, education, infrastructure, etc).
Surely even the most uninformed American recognizes that we cannot sustain these wars at this level indefinitely.
I'll keep trying to write about these things, and try to do it in a respectful, and hopefully thoughtful, unsensational way (and what I mean by that is to try not to exploit any person or situation like a lot in the media do).
And, who knows, maybe I really will lose 10 pounds.