Honoring Veterans but Forgetting Their Wounds

A century ago this year, the conflict that would become World War I broke out in Europe. Today is Veterans Day, marking the Nov. 11 end of that war.

Sadly, it wasn’t the end of all wars. Many more men and women earned their veteran stripes. If you are one of them, thank you for your sacrifice. The rest of us are in your debt.

Dog tags on flag

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We rightly thank veterans for their service, even if we disagree with the wars they fought. For many the sacrifice continues long after they hang up the uniform and take off the dog tags.

My dad is a good example.

Dad served in Vietnam as a U.S. Army intelligence officer. He questioned enemy prisoners to learn information about their plans and positions.

Unlike some of his peers, Dad came home alive, but he wasn’t unharmed. Somehow, the “Agent Orange“ chemical herbicide found its way into his blood.

The U.S. used Agent Orange to deprive the enemy of cover in Vietnam’s thick jungles. They deployed it on a staggering scale, too.

Between 1962 and 1971, 12% of South Vietnam’s total area was sprayed with Agent Orange, at an average concentration 13 times higher than the Agriculture Department allowed for domestic use.

Whether Agent Orange shortened the war is debatable, but the impact on Vietnam’s environment and people was disastrous. The chemical destroyed croplands, gave villagers cancer and other illnesses, and caused birth defects in thousands of children.

My dad had no idea all this was happening, or that it would give him diabetes years later. He suffered for a long time before finally seeking help at a veterans’ hospital. By then they could do little beyond giving him a small monthly benefit.

You might think our government would have learned a lesson from that episode, but apparently not. Now soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming back sick from exposure to depleted uranium ammunition. Others involved in cleaning up Saddam Hussein’s 1980s-era chemical weapon stockpile are suffering too.

War is never healthy, but we owe our soldiers — and innocent civilian victims — some kind of relief and we should stop creating yet more casualties. Too many veterans still suffer, as my dad has. There is no doubt that many veterans die years before they should because of Agent Orange and other exposures.

If we must go to war, we must take care of our own people who come back injured. A holiday like today is a good start, but that’s all it is: a start.

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In China, Nov. 11 is a different kind of holiday, “Singles Day.“ It is very commercial, invented by e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA) in 2009 to generate retail sales.

It’s working, too. Alibaba’s sales on this date grew a whopping 5,740% from 2009 to 2013. The company said it rang up $9.3 billion in online sales today.

Single’s Day is the opposite of Valentine’s Day. Young, unattached Chinese give each other gifts. It was a genius move by Alibaba because so many people in the country are single.

For various reasons, finding a mate is particularly difficult for this generation of Chinese. Alibaba turned their shame into a giant nationwide party. Now other retailers are joining in to make Singles Day a major festival.

As an investment point, notice that Singles Day is primarily an online shopping event. Young Chinese don’t go to stores to buy gifts for their single friends. They pull out their smartphones and open the Alibaba app.

This is an important clue. Chinese e-commerce firms have made shopping on mobile devices perfectly normal to the younger generation. That’s a good sign for stocks like BABA and its many smaller rivals.

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Here is a reply to my Monday article, Russia & China Chip Away at Petrodollar.

Reader Guy N. says: “I have no doubt that the Chinese leaders are well aware of our debt situation, and our history of living beyond our means. They also will not forget how the cavalier behavior of our finance establishment in the derivatives markets almost brought down the entire world‘s financial system in 2008. I feel this was what shook their trust.

As a group they are ultra-conservative, and they see a high probability that the U.S. dollar will not have a long-term future. They believe future financial stability requires that world commerce be weaned off the dollar.“

Brad: Thanks for writing, Guy. I think you are right that Chinese leaders notice our mistakes. Whether that made them change their own long-term strategy is a different question.

Any other thoughts on Agent Orange, Veterans Day, Singles Day or the Petrodollar? I always welcome your feedback. You can leave a comment on our website or send me an e-mail.

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U.S. bond markets and many European stock exchanges took a day off to honor veterans. That led to relatively quiet trading in U.S. equities. Here are a few headlines.

  • Cloud provider Rackspace Hosting (RAX) floated 13.2% higher after a consensus-beating quarterly report. The company said it may spend as much as $500 million to buy back its own shares over the next two years.
  • President Obama’s new “net neutrality“ stance hit cable providers for a second day. Time Warner Cable (TWC) dropped 1.3% and Comcast (CMCSA) struggled to break even.
  • A TWC spokesperson said they would arrive at the White House to complain between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM next Thursday, and asked the president to give 24 hours notice if he wished to cancel the appointment.
  • Mobile game developer Zynga (ZNGA), maker of addictive apps like Farmville and Words with Friends, rose 10.9% after Jefferies & Co. gave the stock a “Buy“ rating.
  • Gold mining leader Newmont (NEM) climbed 3.5% as bullion prices recovered some lost ground.
  • In Beijing, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to drop tariffs on a broad list of technology products. This preliminary step still needs approval from the World Trade Organization, so tech companies aren’t celebrating yet.

Good Luck and Happy Investing,

Brad Hoppmann

Publisher

Uncommon Wisdom Daily

P.S. Our new training video, “The Secret Gold Account,“ has received overwhelming response so far. If you‘re investing in gold, oil or any other commodities, this is one presentation you don’t want to miss. Simply click this link here to watch it today!

 

Your thoughts on “Honoring Veterans but Forgetting Their Wounds”

  1. I am a Registered Nurse, retired and recently started as a volunteer in the VA hospital in Cincinnati. It is one of the finest in the USA. They are currently building a Nursing Home with a wing for Hospice. I was a Hospice Nurse for 7 years.

    I was told by a person. ” The VA Hospitals are built on dump sites ! Imagine how angry I became. Typical of what the Government does. They are known for sending the young “disposable” men to fight for what ? i.e.: Viet Nam. Look what that unwindable war did to those young men, now in their 70’s. I see it in their faces and the damage to their bodies and minds.

    We need to let other countries fight their own wars. We need to stay out of wars unless our Country is being threatened.

    I will relay one Vet that I spoke too. It only took one to see the damage it did to their brain . I asked him where he fought. He said,” Viet Nam”, I told him, my then Doctor husband, was there too. His face became red and he started sobbing. I tried to comfort him. It did no good. He said, ” Just get away from me.” I went onto the next Vet waiting to be seen in the medical clinic. I did not ask him. He volunteered. He was a chemist. He replied, ” I was not in combat, used in intelligence. They were not sending the “brainy people” into combat.”

    My X-husband a prominent physician, told me he was going to be deployed in 1968. We had just had our first baby girl. I had given birth to her the day before ! He left when she was 6 months old. Fortunately, he returned in one piece. However, he did not talk about it ever. We had an R&R in Hawaii. He did not tell me anything. Now, he is 76 and was diagnosed with MDS a precursor to leukemia. He thought it could have been his exposure to radiation. Recently, his exposure to agent orange came up. He is currently being treated in Texas with the finest group of physicians knowledgeable in MDS.

    America’s treatment of the Indians in the 1700’s is unbelievable. One million Indians were slaughtered. Indians only used clubs to fight no killing of foreigners to protect their sacred land called AMERICA. Hitler apparently learned genocide from how the Indians were eliminated. We all know about the Jews. That war was really a war to be won. This country should never start a war it cannot win ever again ! The Indians should be given back their sacred land by some benevolent American soon.

    God will bless America as soon as we as a nation pray for forgiveness for the atrocities we have have committed and vote into office a God centered person to save us for what is coming our way. Check the “PRINCIPALS OF FREEDOM” We are really not a free nation any more.

    Donna M. Steel

  2. Since WW2 America has been responsible directly and indirectly for the deaths of about ten million people. The US had won the Korean war with few casualties within a few weeks but went beyond its UN mandate up to the Chinese border and a couple of million extra were killed, including about 50,000 American soldiers. If the US were to adhere to international law as determined by the UN (not perfect I must admit) then every subsequent war after Korea would not have happened. The solution is simple, obey the law. Do you realise how sick I feel when I watch some maudlin movie about a single person dying of Leukemia or MS when millions are starving and dying of thirst in deserts form wars that may not have happened if the US, UK and Australia had not intervened without UN authorisation in the middle east.

  3. You state, ‘If we must go to war, we must take care of our own people who come back injured. A holiday like today is a good start, but that’s all it is: a start.” As citizens we also need to be more skeptical of the reasons our politicians give us for needing to go to war. Here are statements of 3 veterans about why we go to war.

    Lawrence Wilkerson flew 1100 combat hours as a helicopter pilot in his 1st yr. in Viet Nam & later in his career was the deputy director of the Marine Corps War College & chief of staff for Gen. Colin Powell. Col. Wilkerson has stated that our foreign policy is really run by, “The people who own the wealth, the people who therefore have the power and who more or less, & I’m not being too facetious here, buy the president and thus buy American foreign policy.” He also points out that, “big American defense contractors are largely responsible for our current dispute with Russia.”

    Smedley Butler is one of only 19 people in the history of the US
    military to have received the Medal of Honor twice.
    Here’s an excerpt from a 1933 speech by General Butler, “I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps… And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism… I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”

    David Shoup joined the Marines in 1926, & was awarded the Medal of Honor during WWII. As Commandant of the Marine Corps & a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shoup was in on the planning for the initial stages of the Viet Nam War at the highest level of the US military. After retiring in 1963, here is what he said about the Viet Nam War in 1966, “I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own—and if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the ‘haves’ refuse to share with the ‘have-nots’ by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don’t want and above all don’t want crammed down their throats by Americans.”

  4. I was in Vietnam and have Diabetes.I was in the USAF for 26 years. I also had a total knee replacement and was on 100% disability ; however because I can still walk the VA dropped me down to 70%. I was on 100% for 11 years. They should eliminate the VA. They make the Military look BAD!

  5. I was also in Viet Nam in 1967-68, also in Military Intelligence, and quite insignificantly, came home with a piece of purple ribbon on my chest. When asked if I were on the front line, my response was always the same: there was no front line in Viet Nam. And, also there was no area no exposed to Agent Orange. Fortunately, so far, I have not exhibited the after effects. Unlike others, I am lucky to be a patient at the VA Hospital in Manhattan, a teaching facility for NYU Medical School. And while I get great care, or perhaps because I do, I am angered that every one of my brothers and sisters doesn’t get the same high quality.

    To those reading this today, on this day of the usual empty platitudes (“Thank you for your service; have a nice day”) let me welcome home my fellow brothers and sisters with a reminder of what we did: we each wrote checks payable to the United States for any amount up to and including our lives. All of us gave some, some gave all. No thanks from me is necessary. Just welcome home.

  6. As a purple heart viet nam vet, I have a little different take on agent orange. I was exposed and have some problems from it. And I would rather die a little prematurely than instantly from a bullet at close range or spend the rest of my life physically disabled because they were hiding in the bushes that we did not destroy. As for your dad, had he gone in earlier, it would not have done him any good. The VA is a fantastically useless organization. From my experience, their main purpose is to kill off us vets so they do not have to waste any more money on us (they need the money for illegal aliens and countries that hate us). I quit going to the VA a couple of years ago, it is a lot healthier that way. And being that I do not have any of the deadly diseases on the VAs’ short list, there is no compensation.

  7. Although I think Veterans Day is well deserved recognition for our Veterans I think its all theater. I also watch daily commercials for the wounded warriors and see how the VA treats Veterans. The Country should prove it cares for its Veterans or we should get out of the war business.

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