A culture of contempt: The underlying cause of the Veteran Affairs scandal?

by Gerald R. Molen, Producer: Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, Rain Man, 2016

 

JerryMolenPresidents come and go, but the political and social cultures that nurture them live on for decades.

Although I have never been shy about expressing my views regarding politics, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the culprit in the current scandal of our treatment of our veterans is not about President Obama at all, but something far larger: the political, academic and social culture of the last half century that birthed Barack Obama.

I come to this conclusion after nearly a year of intense research on the part of our team for our upcoming movie “America” which hits theaters this summer. I am often asked if “America” will be another film about President Obama as my last film “2016: Obama’s America” was.

The answer is no. This film isn’t much about Obama at all, for in truth he’s not that important anymore.

If pollsters are correct, he’ll be facing a unified wall of opposition from both houses of Congress after the midterm elections this fall, and despite the predictions of some on the far right, he will not be seeking a third term.

Presidents come and go, but the political and social cultures that nurture them live on for decades. It is that culture that I believe is responsible for creating a disrespect and unconscionable disregard for our veterans that has led to treatment and the lack of treatment that is almost unfathomable in this the greatest country on earth.

Each day the facts surrounding the VA scandal are becoming clearer: The Department of Veterans Affairs has been lying to all of us about care that they have been providing to the men and women who have put their lives on the line for this nation.

We may never know the full extent of the damage they have done to our precious veterans but we know many have suffered and maybe even died because of mismanagement and deceit.

Where did this culture of contempt for our men and women in uniform come from? This story is a part of a much larger narrative — a story of the last 50 years of American history and how we changed as a people.

In our film, “America”, we feature Col. John Fer, an American prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict, who told us that the America he left and the America he returned to six years later were two different countries.

When American troops returned from World War II they were hailed as heroes. When they returned from Vietnam they were spat upon, ridiculed, shamed, derided, mocked and taunted. What changed? We did, because we began to listen to a new narrative about America and we believed it.

Shame on us.

A half century later, those who spat-upon our troops — both figuratively and literally — are now in positions of power and influence — in Hollywood, Washington, in academia and yes, maybe even in the offices of VA administrators, and their ethos rules. Their actions and inactions speak louder than words.

That new American story had many narrators, but in our movie we highlight two of them and the story they began to tell was the story not of a great and noble country that despite its faults always tried to right wrongs and stand up for the truth, but rather one that was all about conquest, plunder and injustice.

Christopher Columbus was no longer the great man who discovered our nation, but rather, a war criminal. George Washington was no longer the noble and humble father of our nation, but rather a hypocritical slave owner. And American foreign policy was no longer seen in a noble light as a force that was focused on liberation and freedom but rather conquest.

Today our nation is led by men and women who were influenced mightily by those storytellers who told them a new tale of America and nowhere is that result more evident than the VA scandal, and we need look no further to find an example of this culture of disrespect than our current secretary of state, who showed his contempt for our nation and his own service when he threw away his military service medals.

I gave back, I can’t remember, six, seven, eight, nine medals,” John Kerry said in a 1971 interview. With men like him in power today, is it any wonder our veterans are suffering? And why hasn’t the commander-in-chief stepped up and followed through on his 2008 promises?

This Fourth of July the pushback begins and the lies must finally stop. It’s time to tell a new story. The real story… the true story.

To paraphrase a great thinker, it’s time to stand athwart history and say “Stop!Stop telling lies about America.

Stop the disrespect of the men and women who built this country. Stop telling lies about our founders and the military actions we’ve taken around the world and about our intentions. And yes, stop the culture that cultivated a callous indifference to the men and women who bled for our freedoms.

The first step to solving the V.A. crisis is to begin telling the true story of America and give our precious veterans the assistance and medical care they so richly deserve. Let’s do it now!

Gerald Molen, of Bigfork, is the Oscar-winning producer of “Schindler’s List.” He is also the producer of “America: The Movie,” which comes out July 2. This column first appeared at TheWrap.com, a Hollywood trade publication.

1 thought on “A culture of contempt: The underlying cause of the Veteran Affairs scandal?”

  1. Far too many veterans are homeless in America—between 130,000 and 200,000 on any given night—representing between one fourth and one-fifth of all homeless people. Three times that many veterans are struggling with excessive rent burdens and thus at increased risk of homelessness.
    Further, there is concern about the future. Women veterans and those with disabilities including post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury are more likely to become homeless, and a higher percentage of veterans returning from the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have these characteristics.

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night [1]. And approximately twice that many experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country.

    Approximately 40% of homeless men are veterans, although veterans comprise only 34% of the general adult male population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that on any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless, and 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness during the course of a year (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 2006). 97% of those homeless veterans will be male (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008).

    DEMOGRAPHICS

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says the nation's homeless veterans are mostly males (four percent are females). The vast majority is single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45 percent suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. 47 per cent of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam Era. More than 67 per cent served our country for at least three years and 33 per cent were stationed in a war zone.

    Here are some statistics concerning the veterans homeless [2]:

    23% of homeless population are veterans
    33% of male homeless population are veterans
    47% Vietnam Era
    17% post-Vietnam
    15% pre-Vietnam
    67% served three or more years
    33% stationed in war zone
    25% have used VA Homeless Services
    85% completed high school/GED, compared to 56% of non-veterans
    89% received Honorable Discharge
    79% reside in central cities
    16% reside in suburban areas
    5% reside in rural areas
    76% experience alcohol, drug, or mental health problems
    46% white males compared to 34% non-veterans
    46% age 45 or older compared to 20% non-veterans
    Question; Why so many homeless veterans? Starting 1972, because of affirmative action and quotas, men, fathers ,and veterans were force to compete with women and mothers for a job. Since 1964 , congress has passed over 400 laws empowering women, 0 laws for men. Government was pushing UNISEX, saying it no longer a women job to rear her children, we the government will raise and brain wash your children. If a boy act like a boy we will give him drugs to control him. When I was young, boys dated girls, young men bought old cars to date girls, he had to go to the girls house to meet the parents. The father shook your hand and said you touch my daughter , I will kill you. Today the girls own the vehicles , and the girls date the boys and skate board.

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