Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Remarkable Letter to the DVA

We would like to make you aware of a recent exchange of letters between a VASVW Member and Bradley G. Mayes, Director of Compensation And Pension Services, Department of Veterans Affairs.

Joe Covington is a Blue Water Navy Veteran and member of the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War.

You can read Mr. Mayes letter [and should do so] by going to Joe's blog, A Citizen's Reflection, and check the links for his letter near the top of the right sidebar.

Meanwhile, here is Joe's remarkable response to Mr. Mayes.

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Dear Mr. Mayes,

Thank you for the quick response, from your office staff, in reference to my concerns about the decision of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs not to provide certain earned and promised benefits to the Blue Water Naval (BWN) Veterans of the Vietnam War. In your letter, you stated that the DVA’s decision was based on “factual circumstances” of the use of “tactical herbicides” during the Vietnam War. You also spoke of this decision as not being a sign of disrespect directed at the Blue Water Naval Veterans. But it is my opinion, as well as many others, that the DVA’s failure to act appropriately and honestly to consider all of the “factual circumstances” that was part of the War, is a sign of disrespect, dishonesty and Yes, it is being directed at us Naval Veterans who volunteered our services to our country, we had a choice, as we were not drafted.

The statements contained in your letter indicates one of two things to me, either you are not really familiar with the actual facts of the operations during the war, or you are dishonestly attempting to portray the facts in a skewed manner.

Let me demonstrate what I mean, in your letter you said that there were no herbicides used over open waters, yet numerous records have been found that prove that it was a common practice for the “Ranch Hand” fixed-wing aircraft landing at Da Nang airbase to jettison their remaining chemicals over open water, some were jettisoning several thousand gallons at a time, due to having to make emergency landings. Flight records also show that these fixed wing aircraft used a flight path over the open water in its approach to and departure from Da Nang airbase; recovered maintenance records indicates that the release valves on most these aircraft were leaking these “tactical herbicides”, therefore being disbursed over open water. What all this means is that it appears that the fairness of your assessment does not consider all of the “factual circumstances” surrounding “tactical herbicides” and open water.

In your letter you also indicated that the only run off into the South China Sea might have occurred in the Mekong River Delta Area and you also say that was a “unique and limited” environment. But sir, records that are in the herbs tapes indicate that there was heavy spraying of “tactical herbicides” in the Quang Tri, Ashau Valley areas from the eastern border with Laos, all the way to the coast as well as south of Da Nang., as well as most areas in South Vietnam. All of the rivers and inland waterways of South Vietnam emptied into the South China Sea. That means that the runoff from this area was directly deposited into the areas, as you admitted, our ships were operating within. Also, keep in mind that the herb tapes did not record the dispensing of “tactical herbicides” by hand, boat or helicopter which other records unmistakably indicates that these methods of dispensing of “tactical herbicides” were largely used in the coastal and inland waterway areas. So once again it appears that the fairness of your assessment does not consider all of the “factual circumstances” surrounding the use of “tactical herbicides” and its runoff into all of the areas that our ships were operating.

I also wanted to remind you that the Dixie Station operating area was actually within the runoff area of the Mekong River and other inland waterway of Southern South Vietnam. So that would put the BWN that was operating in the area, by your admission, within the contaminated areas of the South China Sea. So once again the fairness of your assessment does not consider all of the “factual circumstances” surrounding the use of “tactical herbicides”

You also stated in your letter that the vast majority of BWN Veterans were stationed on aircraft carriers that were over 100 miles off shore. Yet records have consistently shown that these ships did not stay that distance away from the coast. As a matter of fact, most everyone knows that when these ships were conducting flight ops they had to steam into the wind. Metrological records, from the time period in question and location, indicated that the prevailing winds were from the North West. Therefore these ships were always steaming toward the coast while conducting flight ops. Now common sense should tell anyone that conducting twelve hours of flight ops, with at least six or more of those hours in the wind, launching and recovering aircraft while steaming at 25+ knots, would clearly put these ships in close proximity to the coast. I specifically remember there were times that we were within sight of the coast and we watched the CRUDES gunships fire on land based positions, they were normally within thousand yards of the coast when firing, which was an amazing light show at night. So, once again, it appears that the fairness of your assumptions do not consider all of the “factual circumstances” of the operations of the ships off the coast of South Vietnam.

You said that your “factual circumstances” do not support the general conclusion that BWN Veterans were exposed to “tactical herbicides” in the same manner as Veterans who served on the ground and on the inland waterways of Vietnam. You are right, but again that is not the BWN’s contention, it is the BWN’s contention that there is more than one way to be exposed to those “tactical herbicides” and it is the contention of the BWN Veterans that it appears the fairness of your assumptions do not consider all of the “factual circumstances” or methods of that exposure to the “tactical herbicides” that were used throughout South Vietnam.

So when I look at the manner in which the “factual circumstances” are used or rather misused by the DVA to exclude these Veterans from the benefits that were earned and provided before 2002, I do believe that truly does show a high degree of disrespect directed toward these BWN Veterans. Also, when you say that we only “supported the war effort” or refer to us as only “Vietnam Era Veterans”, I and many others do consider those actions and statements, when used by those at the DVA, to be very insulting and disrespectful toward all of us who volunteered our services to our country, not to mention the denigrating affect on the BWN that didn’t come home, these Naval Veterans of the Vietnam War were in a war, they were not just supporting one and the Naval Veterans are war veterans not “era” veterans.

In your letter you went on to say that the IOM’s statements were “speculative and academic.” Let me remind you that when the IOM was contracted by the DVA under the direction of Congress, the purpose of that contract was create a non-biased, non-governmental controlled method to review all the scientific and medical evidence currently available that pertains to the effects of the herbicides and the Veterans of the Vietnam War, which by the way, did include the BWN at that time.

PL 102-4, SEC. 3. AGREEMENT WITH NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Purpose.--The purpose of this section is to provide for the National Academy of Sciences, an independent nonprofit scientific organization with appropriate expertise which is not part of the Federal Government, to review and evaluate the available scientific evidence regarding associations between diseases and exposure to dioxin and other chemical compounds in herbicides.

What the above means to most people is that the IOM is to determine if there is an association that exists between “tactical herbicides” and diseases within the population of Vietnam War Veterans, thus the finding of an association between “tactical herbicides” usage and the diseases it causes within the population of BWN is well within that stated purpose.

So therefore, based on that highly educated and comprehensive review of all of the materials available, they reported their findings and opinions to the Secretary of the DVA in the form of recommendations, in this instance it is their recommendation that due to all of the scientific and medical evidence available, there is an established link or association to the use of “tactical herbicides” and the BWN’s illnesses. However, because those recommendations appear to be contrary to the DVA’s non-scientific and non-medically based politically motivated decision that contends that there is no link or association between the BWN and use of “tactical herbicides” then the IOM’s recommendation must be “speculative and academic.”

Sir, I submit that their findings are not outside the bounds of their purview, it is what they were required to do, just because their assessment does not portray the evidence in the manner that the DVA wanted it to, it is your conclusion that it means nothing and therefore they overstepped their bounds. You see, that is exactly what I am saying. If the DVA doesn’t like the result of something, they just ignore it or say it is “speculative or academic”, thus lending more creditably to the belief that the DVA’s actions do express a disrespectful attitude toward the Vietnam War BWN Veterans.

You don’t suppose that the decision to exclude the BWN from this coverage, which was based only on an opinion that was developed from a speculative assessment of the intent of Congress by a DVA employed Attorney, would be any different do you? If the DVA is using a legal opinion, as publicly stated and sworn to in a court of law, from your employed attorney to base the removal of these Vietnam War Veterans from coverage, then why do you state in your letter that the “this decision was based on to the factual circumstances of tactical herbicides use in Vietnam?” You see, speaking out of both sides of your mouth is the very reason that many believe, and rightly so, that this decision was nothing more than a politically motivated pronouncement that cannot be backed up by science or any other honestly presented evidence.

As another example, let me ask this, can you or anyone there tell me why NHL is linked to exposure to “tactical herbicides” for “in-country” forces, yet it is not linked to exposure to “tactical herbicides” for the BWN. Do not tell me that its origin in the BWN could not be determined; as its link was found during the same CDC study that linked NHL in “in-country” forces to the use of “tactical herbicides.” The only difference being is it was at a higher rate of occurrence in BWN than it was for the “in-country” forces, kind of like some of these other illnesses that have not been attributed to exposure to “tactical herbicides” in BWN but they are attributed to exposure to “tactical herbicides” within the ranks of “in-country” forces. So once again the fairness of your assessment does not consider all of the “factual circumstances” surrounding the use of “tactical herbicides”

Now let’s look at this from what is possibly a vicarious liability standpoint, if the DVA knows that NHL and these other illnesses that the BWN has contracted at a higher rate than the civilian population were not caused by these “tactical herbicides”, and for the last 35 years have done nothing to find out what did cause these service connected illnesses, then they have failed to do the job given them by Congress. In reality, the “factual circumstance” is either one of two things, either they were caused by the use of “tactical herbicides”, and the DVA is knowingly, intentionally and negligently derelict in their duty by denying these war time Veterans their rightfully earned benefits, or the DVA knows these illnesses were not caused by “tactical herbicides” but some other service related issue, similar to what the DVA claims to have caused NHL in BWN, then the DVA has been knowingly, intentionally and negligently derelict in their duty to determine the cause of these illnesses and then provide the appropriate care and benefits for these veterans.

In either case it is plain to see that the DVA has been knowingly, intentionally and negligently derelict, therefore, something should be done immediately to correct this matter, first of all, those responsible for this continuing catastrophic breakdown of required duties, should be held accountable and it should not take another study or 35 more years to be completed. Yes, this is just another example of why I and a lot of others consider the actions of the DVA, in this matter, to be disrespectful and shameful and it is being directed toward the Naval Veterans of the Vietnam War.

Another point that demonstrates this disrespectful and shameful conduct is shown when shortly after the announcement of the release of the IOM’s update, someone at the DVA put out a statement that the IOM recommended that more studies be conducted in the area of BWN and exposure to “tactical herbicides”. Sir, I respectfully submit that they did not recommend anything of the such, they clearly said that there was obvious and direct evidence that indicates that the BWN was at risk to exposure to the “tactical herbicides” used in Vietnam. This is just another example of how the “factual circumstances” are being misconstrued by the DVA in order to protect the ones that should be held accountable for this disgraceful dereliction of duty directed at these Vietnam War Veterans.

Think about this, the DVA releases a projection that if this proposed change in direction were to take place, it would provide over 800,000 additional Veterans coverage under the presumption of exposure. Thus it would cost some 27 billion dollars a year to pay for this change. Now I don’t mind telling you that is a little outrageous and it borders on ridiculous. DOD numbers indicated that there were only 514,000 offshore veterans at the end of the war. I am pretty sure some of them have died in the interim. I do think that if the death rates stayed the same since the last census then that 800,000 would probably be the total number of Vietnam War Veterans alive, not the ones affected by this proposed change. That number would most likely be closer to 100,000 or less. For someone at the DVA to make such a projection as erroneous as these numbers appear to be, just demonstrates even further what I and many others have been saying all along. These and similar actions of those at the DVA obviously projects an attitude of disrespect and in this case it is being directed towards the Naval Veterans of the Vietnam War.

So in closing, I once again, implore you to correct these appalling failures on the DVA’s part and not procrastinate any longer. These honorable men and women are dying at a very high rate and your failure to act appropriately and promptly in this matter will continue to be perceived as a demonstration of an extremely disrespectful and shameful attitude, which is unquestionably being directed at the Naval Veterans of the Vietnam War.

Respectfully submitted,

Joe L. Covington, USN
Veteran of the Vietnam War,
1971 to 1973

Cc: Eric Shineski, Secretary of DVA
Patrick Dunne, Deputy Secretary of DVA
Senator Daniel Akaka, Chairman, Senate Veterans’ Affairs
Congressman Bob Filner, Chairman, House Veteran’s Affairs
Thomas “Chet” Edwards, United States Representative
John Cornyn, United States Senator
John Wells, Attorney-at-law, Veterans Advocate
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We advise you to follow Joe's blog, A Citizen's Reflection, regularly. As you can see from above, it will be well worth your while.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2010: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Fifth Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day: A Sermon on Sacrifice

This past Sunday we participated in a special service honoring Veterans at a local church. We joined the Pastor of the church in the Sermon, in which we attempted to define sacrifice as it pertains to our Veterans, and indeed, to all persons. Here is that Sermon.

Pastor: Introduction

When I began to consider our Veteran’s Day observance and how to plan worship, the first thing I had to consider was the assigned scripture reading. When I saw that it was Hebrews, with an emphasis on Jesus as a sacrifice, it seemed a perfect reading to explore on this particular Sunday. Sacrifice is a word that we throw around pretty freely, and yet seldom pause to consider what it really means. This seems an excellent occasion to do just that.

The Letter to the Hebrews is a puzzling, and sometimes disturbing book of the Bible. It is easily overlooked since it is not a letter written by Paul, and also because its language is very strange to us. It is the language of temple, priest, altar, atoning blood …Old Testament terms that we thought we had left behind in the New Testament. It is unfamiliar territory for which we have no point of reference. But the book of Hebrews does center on a word that we use quite frequently: sacrifice.

Our task this morning is to clarify what we mean by the word “sacrifice”, and to examine the distinction between the sacrifice made on our behalf by Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice made on our behalf by our military veterans. How is it the same, and how is it different?

Response: A brief statement about the importance of a Veteran’s Day observance.

The word Veteran stems from the Latin word vetus, meaning old. We think of Veterans that way, yet, today we look around and see those we call Veterans of a much younger age. The parades are no longer for the old men in tight suits and campaign hats, but also for younger men and women, who have borne the battle.

Barely a month before his death, Abraham Lincoln strode to the rostrum on the steps of the United States Capitol Building and gave one of his greatest speeches -- his Second Inaugural Address. The Great Emancipator ended his short speech with words that have echoed down the long and dusty halls of history:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
The long Civil War was ending, and Lincoln knew it. His thoughts had already turned to reconstructing the nation torn apart by a war that killed more than a half-million men. And in those thoughts Lincoln chose to lay the groundwork “…to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…”

Today, those words still hold as a receipt for a debt owed by a nation that sends its young folks off to war as surrogates for its citizenry, as representatives of a National Policy, and as the purveyors of Democracy, Liberty, and Freedom. During that time, they are called troop, soldier, sailor, Marine, airman, Coast Guardsman…but once that service is ended, they are, forevermore, Veterans of the United States military.

As Veterans, they deserve a special place of honor in our society, and our culture, for they have written a blank check, backed by their own life and limb, and serving in place of all of us who do not go, and to keep us all free.

Pastor: The General Definition of Sacrifice

Sacrifice is a word people use when they find themselves indebted to someone or some group for things that sustain life or rescue life. [Peter Schmiechen defines sacrifice, 53-54, Saving Power] People speak of their parents making sacrifices. We honor people who speak the truth and who suffered consequences for it, such Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King. We describe the loss of life in war as a sacrifice made to defend a nation or made for a cause like freedom.

The word sacrifice has these general uses when we wish to refer to something done for us, without concern for self. When the sacrifice involves the shedding of blood, we reach a level that has power far beyond what we can estimate in words. ‘Sacer’ means holy and ‘facere’ means “to make”. As Gil Bailie points out in his many writings on sacrifice-- that does not really define the many ways in which “sacrifice” is used since there are many ways of “making holy” that are not sacrifices, and sacrifices that, in effect, make nothing holy. The recent shooting at Foot Hood

Response: The nature of sacrifice as offered during war

On September 12th, 1861, a 25 year old farmer from nearby southern Lancaster County left his farm, and family and marched off to war against the Confederacy with the 79th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the Lancaster Rifles. In late 1863, this two year regiment reenlisted en masse, earning the right to proudly display the word “Veteran” on their Battle Colors -- the 79th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Nearly four years after his enlistment, Sergeant William T. Clark returned to that farm, older by those four years, experienced in soldiering, and nursing wounds that would eventually kill him four decades later. Clark, wounded three times at the Battle of Perryville, KY, in 1862, and again at the 1863 Battle of Chickamauga, would serve as the Judge of Elections in November of 1864 when members of his regiment proudly voted for Abraham Lincoln’s reelection.

Clark’s blank check cost him the partial use of one arm and issues with his intestinal tract due to his wounds, and a lifetime of battling malaria from his time in the deep south. During his nearly four years in the 79th Pennsylvania, Clark, and the Regiment, spent less than 60 nights under a roof.

On September 29th, 2006, another 25 year-old’s blank check was cashed. Petty Officer Michael Monsoor, a United States Navy Seal, already a recipient of the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for courage and gallantry above and beyond the call of duty, gave his life in Service to his country, and to his fellow Seals. His official citation reads as follows:

"FOR CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY AND INTREPIDITY AT THE RISK OF HIS LIFE ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY AS AUTOMATIC WEAPONS GUNNER FOR NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE TASK GROUP ARABIAN PENINSULA, IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM ON 29 SEPTEMBER 2006. AS A MEMBER OF A COMBINED SEAL AND IRAQI ARMY SNIPER OVERWATCH ELEMENT, TASKED WITH PROVIDING EARLY WARNING AND STAND-OFF PROTECTION FROM A ROOFTOP IN AN INSURGENT HELD SECTOR OF AR RAMADI, IRAQ, PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF BY HIS EXCEPTIONAL BRAVERY IN THE FACE OF GRAVE DANGER. IN THE EARLY MORNING, INSURGENTS PREPARED TO EXECUTE A COORDINATED ATTACK BY RECONNOITERING THE AREA AROUND THE ELEMENT’S POSITION. ELEMENT SNIPERS THWARTED THE ENEMY’S INITIAL ATTEMPT BY ELIMINATING TWO INSURGENTS. THE ENEMY CONTINUED TO ASSAULT THE ELEMENT, ENGAGING THEM WITH A ROCKET-PROPELLED GRENADE AND SMALL ARMS FIRE. AS ENEMY ACTIVITY INCREASED, PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR TOOK POSITION WITH HIS MACHINE GUN BETWEEN TWO TEAMMATES ON AN OUTCROPPING OF THE ROOF. WHILE THE SEALS VIGILANTLY WATCHED FOR ENEMY ACTIVITY, AN INSURGENT THREW A HAND GRENADE FROM AN UNSEEN LOCATION, WHICH BOUNCED OFF PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR’S CHEST AND LANDED IN FRONT OF HIM. ALTHOUGH ONLY HE COULD HAVE ESCAPED THE BLAST, PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR CHOSE INSTEAD TO PROTECT HIS TEAMMATES. INSTANTLY AND WITHOUT REGARD FOR HIS OWN SAFETY, HE THREW HIMSELF ONTO THE GRENADE TO ABSORB THE FORCE OF THE EXPLOSION WITH HIS BODY, SAVING THE LIVES OF HIS TWO TEAMMATES. BY HIS UNDAUNTED COURAGE, FIGHTING SPIRIT, AND UNWAVERING DEVOTION TO DUTY IN THE FACE OF CERTAIN DEATH, PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR GALLANTLY GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HIS COUNTRY, THEREBY REFLECTING GREAT CREDIT UPON HIMSELF AND UPHOLDING THE HIGHEST TRADITIONS OF THE UNITED STATES NAVAL SERVICE."
For his extraordinary courage, his country awarded him the Medal Of Honor.

Navy Seals wear a distinctive gold pin combining a trident, anchor and Eagle. At his funeral, Navy Seals lined up on each side of his coffin and as it passed, each one slapped his Seal pin into the wooden lid as a final tribute to their fallen brother.

Petty Officer Michael Monsoor’s blank check was paid in full.

Pastor: The nature of sacrifice in scripture

The book of Hebrews takes the Old Testament notion of sacrifice and casts it in New Testament terms. [N.T. Wright, 94f, in Hebrews for Everyone] In the old system, the priests went daily into the Temple (the successor of the wilderness tabernacle) and the high priest went annually into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. Sacrifices were made as part of those rituals. In the “old” notion of sacrifice- the people were rescued from sin by the life of the sacrificial animal. Their sins were symbolically placed on the sacrificial animal, as a substitute for them. People could begin again, with a clean slate.

N.T. Wright says that Hebrews points to an inherent flaw in the old system. If my car is not working, and I have to take it back to the mechanic week after week—he obviously has not succeeded in fixing it. The fact that the old sacrifices had to be made over and over again meant that they had not gotten to the root of the problem.

Hebrews explains that all along, the tabernacle or Temple was always a temporary substitute for something brand new being worked out by God. The new sacrifice system spoken of in Hebrews is not the blood of animals, but the blood of the Messiah. Finally, the sacrifice of Jesus reaches deep inside of us, to transform us at the core of our being. We are not washed clean, we are made brand new. The priests stood daily at their sacrificial duties. Jesus doesn’t have to offer his sacrifice anymore. It is complete.

When Jesus submitted to those who killed him rather than exercising violence, the temple veil was torn in half and something brand new happened on that darkest of days. An event that first seemed to be so terrible and final was transformed by Christ into a brand new way of existence. We worship a God who chooses to suffer violence rather than meet it in kind. God enters into humankind’s 10,000 year cycle of violence and thus breaks the cycle forever.

Response: Where and how does love operate in the actions of the warrior who goes forth on our behalf?

In the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 15, verse 13, Jesus instructs us:

“…Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
In this way, Jesus defines sacrifice as an act of love. Not an act of hate, or an act of war, but an act of love. So who is it that is the object of this love? Well, it is those who serve with the Veteran most assuredly, and any Veteran can tell you that the bond between those who serve in war together indeed creates a “band of brothers." Some Veterans will deny this bond, calling it brotherhood, but we know it is love, for so Jesus showed us. Did he not lay down his life for all of us? Did he not choose to allow others to end his life in a most horrible fashion, knowing full well what was in store for him, and did he not do so without remorse, without a second thought? And that love extends back to us…to you…to me…to all of us, for did He not go in our stead? Did the Veteran not go in our stead?

And so, it is love that causes men like William Clark to leave a verdant farm and loving family to march off to war, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with his friends, neighbors and fellow soldiers, braving the heat and ferocity of battle, even though wounded.

And men like Michael Monsoor, who laid down his life for his friends.

Those blank checks are far too often paid for in blood and breath, tears and trauma, yet…yet…they were written and tendered with love.

Pastor: Conclusion:

How do we compare the sacrifices made by our Veterans and that made by Jesus on the cross?

1. Both are both costly and precious
2. Both are made in love
3. But only the sacrifice of Jesus shows us the way out of the cycle of violence in which we have been held for millennia.

Jesus lived a non-violent life and through his life teaches us to do the same. But the Christian Church has been ambivalent about war since the theory of just war was developed by St. Augustine. The theory assumes that non-violence is the norm for Christians, but expresses conditions in which we can ignore these fundamental Christian teachings.

We are still locked into a cycle of violence that sends out substitutionary sacrifices (Military men and women), because we are unable to live in the way that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. We have not yet learned the new way of being that Jesus demonstrated for us, in his sacrifice. In Christ, God is creating a new way of being, a new community of reconciliation by resisting and overcoming the power of the world with God’s saving power.

By Jesus’ resistance to violence he breaks the cycle of violence. “It is possible” proclaims the cross! “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” With these words, Jesus inaugurates a new age. We have only to embrace this wondrous love, and show it in our own lives and actions to help usher in this new age. We best honor our Veterans by working for peace, so that this generation of warriors might be the last.

End

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2009: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Fifth Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved.