KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Donald Trump praised the country’s veterans and active military in a speech Tuesday to the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, but spent much of his 54 minutes on stage as if it were one of his political rallies — promoting himself and other Republicans and attacking Democrats and the media.
I’m a former Marine — I spent five years on active duty and two more in the reserve component before departing for 1st Civilian Division. I love the Marine Corps and always have, partly because military culture was part of my home life from birth.
County veterans service officers perform a critical role for veterans, especially those living far from major population centers. Often working closely with small-town chapters of organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars, CVSOs are local, state-employed representatives whose purpose is to assist veterans in navigating the bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their responsibilities are defined by the individual states.
“They used this place to shoot the Batman movies,” our shuttle driver replied to the comments about all of the gothic architecture with strong industrial influence. The aging industrial hub of Pittsburgh has revitalized itself, and was alive with activity, vibrant culture on display in many areas. The man drove fast and hard through the city streets, carrying me and my two comrades to the 116th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention at the heart of the cultural center. The juxtaposition of setting and function could not be more striking.
The recent scandals at the Department of Veterans Affairs culminating in the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki are a sobering reminder of the difficulties we face in caring for America’s veterans. Fortunately, veterans service organizations exist and have a rich history of advocacy on behalf of veterans. But unfortunately, declining membership in these organizations makes the future of veterans’ advocacy uncertain.