George W. Bush on Veterans

The legacy of former president George W. Bush depends mostly on the individual’s point of view. Depending on who one asks, Bush might have been a great president willing to make tough choices. Other people have a far lower view of the last president. Regardless of the good or bad that Bush might have done, he should be applauded for raising awareness on the issues that veterans face.

The hazards of fighting in a war are something that most people at least understand on a basic level. However, the potential problems in a soldier’s life do not simply go away when that person returns home. William Tecumseh Sherman is said to have uttered the words “war is hell.” This is undoubtedly true, and it has a way of leaving its impact on people, whether they are the civilians caught in the middle or the soldiers doing the fighting.

Physical injuries sustained during the line of duty are the most obvious problems that can plague veterans for their whole lives. However, physical trauma is only part of the problem. Arguably far more insidious are the lingering emotional and psychological problems that can come from warfare.

Post-traumatic stress disorder  (PTSD) is one of the most common psychological maladies that can plague a veteran. As the name implies, PTSD sometimes occurs when a person has been involved in an emotionally traumatic experience. Causes of PTSD are not limited to combat, but veterans are common victims. People who have suffered traumatic events can end up mentally reliving their experience, feeling similar emotions to what they felt in the original event. The long-term effects of this problem make it harder for someone with PTSD to live a normal life.

Bush had a few thoughts on veterans suffering from PTSD. For one thing, he said that PTSD should not be considered a disorder. He also suggested that employers be more willing to hire people with PTSD. While Bush made the point that employers are willing to hire people with other health problems, comparing a physical health problem with a psychological issue can be tricky.

Bush suggested that people, regardless of their views on war, should not be hateful towards veterans. He cited the way soldiers were treated on return from Vietnam as a way not to go about things. Bush is probably correct to say this. Even if a person is anti-war, nothing is to be gained by taking one’s anger out on other people. Reacting in such a way simply compounds the problem.

Bush was right in pointing out the challenges that veterans face. Nevertheless, one of his statements was problematic. Bush essentially said that veterans are the small minority that keep the majority safe. Whether this statement is true depends greatly on which war is in question. For example, it could be argued that Vietnam and even Iraq were not defensive wars. Indeed, throughout America’s history, there have been numerous conflicts that were not defensive. Therefore, saying that soldiers keep America safe does not really work as a blanket statement.

Bush’s words on veterans were certainly thought provoking. People ought to be willing to help those among them who are less fortunate, regardless of the cause. However, the best thing that can happen for future veterans is an end to non-defensive wars.

Editorial By Zach Kirkman


George W. Bush Institute


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