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All The Nice Things Veterans Could Get For The Price Of A Trump Parade
Instead of sending service members out into the streets, President Donald Trump may want to consider helping homeless veterans off of them.
A Department of Defense memo sent to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford of March 9 laid out the plans for a sprawling military parade in Washington, D.C. for Veterans Day on November 11th, 2018 — a triumphant parade, patterned after France’s annual Bastille Day march, that Trump has pushed for since February. In addition to requiring active-duty service-members to cram into their dress uniforms and stand by to stand by to stand by for hours on end, the parade would have a whopping price tag of somewhere between $10 and $30 million, according to the White House.
This is a puzzling proposition — and not just because the last time the U.S. enjoyed a military parade was after our last actual victory, following the conclusion of the Gulf War in 1991. Indeed, planning the big, fanfare-swaddled spend for Veterans Day seems like something of an insult to the estimated 40,056 veterans who are homeless on any given night, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates.
Even the parade’s uber-thrifty low-end price projection, $10 million, is enough to give thousands of struggling veterans a “thank you” that really means something. Here’s what else that marching-around money could do:
Feed America’s homeless veterans for a month
As Newsweek points out, the average cost of a single hot meal in the U.S. clocks in at $2.94 (although it can jump as high as $5.61, depending on where you live). That comes out to more than 3.4 million hot meals, or 84 square feasts for each homeless veteran in the U.S. — enough to feed each hungry ex-warfighter three times a day for 28.3 days. I’m not sure about you, but I’d take eating for a month over a dumb parade any day.
Give vets some goddamn rent money
Rental assistance currently helps more than 340,000 veterans to afford decent housing — and, according to a 2014 report, has reduced veteran homelessness by 33% since 2010. But that housing assistance has been imperiled in recent months: In December, Politico reported that the VA planned to divert $460 million specifically set aside for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which provides vets with housing vouchers. (The VA officially did an about-face on that plan in February after a public outcry, but the department’s initial thinking suggests those funds are negotiable.)
Forking over $10 million in erstwhile parade money could help. A landlord of a single HUD-VASH voucher recipient in, say, New York City, could expect to see $1,256 a month, with up to $1,500 in one-time incentives for choosing a vet over another Section 8 applicant. Heck, that’s enough to put roughly 3,600 vets up in the Big Apple for a month — long enough to get sweet jobs blogging with us!
Give major homeless vet centers a big fat endowment
There are a 30 VA-funded Community Resource and Referral Centers (CRRCs) across the country that offer services related to health and mental health care, housing support, career assistance, and access to benefits for homeless veterans. And they’re essential: 29,000 vets received assistance through CRRCs in 2015, according to VA data.
A nice fat $330,000 check for each facility could do a lot of long-term good — especially if the money, say, funds endowments to allow each center to further expand, regardless of future budget woes in Washington. Why the VA doesn’t have its own endowment boggles the goddamn mind, unless it’s because the next war will be fought by pointy-headed Harvard intellectuals. (Just kidding; they plan the wars; they don’t fight em.)
333,333 cases of Wild Tiger
With shipping and handling, that’s eight Wild Tigers for each homeless veteran. I’m not saying it’s a good idea. It’s not. But it’s better than a fucking parade.
13 Marines at Camp Pendleton charged with crimes related to smuggling of undocumented immigrants from Mexico
Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.
The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.
The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."
That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.
When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.
"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.
According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.
"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."
Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."
Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."
The Army thinks China will surpass Russia by 2028. Here is how the service is planning to take them on.
If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.
The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.
But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.
In leaked documents, Army family reports waiting weeks to have gas line and roof leaks fixed in on-base housing
As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.
And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.