President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand parade of the U.S. armed forces in Washington this year to celebrate military strength and flex the US empire. This display of militarism will proceed in spite of the very people Trump claims to be honoring being vehemently opposed to it. In fact, an unofficial poll conducted by the military times found the 90% of people do not want a parade. Nevertheless, it will happen.
While many of Trump’s supporters favor the parade, for those who’ve actually served in the military, the idea of being forced to practice day in and day out for a march through Washington D.C. so civilians can pump out their chests with nationalist pride is terrible. There are far better ways to “support the troops” than forcing them to parade around in front of you.
Here’s an idea, end all the wars. If you really want to support the troops, stop using them as pawns in the spread of empire and the expansion of the military-industrial complex. If you really want to support the troops and veterans, how about we address the fact that tens of thousands of them sleep on the streets every single night in the country they offered up their lives for.
To show how much of an insult this parade is to troops and veterans, according to a recent report, the cost of this parade could directly benefit the 40,000 homeless veterans—by feeding them. Instead, it will go to fuel, logistics, drills, and flyovers.
Conservative estimates of the cost of the parade are around $10 million with the higher end budget coming in at $30 million. Even if we divide the lower end number by the total number of homeless veterans, that would be around $250 each.
As Newsweek reports, Feeding America, a non-profit organization and the nation’s largest hunger-relief and food rescue group, found the average cost-per-meal in the U.S. was $2.94 in 2015, the latest data available. The organization culled data from several organizations and agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and found the cost-per-meal ranged from a low of $2.04 in Maverick County, Texas to a high of $5.61 in Crook County, Oregon.
What this means is that the cost of the parade could eliminate hunger among homeless veterans by providing all of them with three meals a day, for at least 14 days and that is using the highest estimate of $5.61.
If we use the average cost of a meal, homeless veterans could get three squares a day for nearly an entire month. While we didn’t ask all 40,000 homeless veterans if they prefer a parade or eating for a month, we are betting the prefer the latter.
Last month, Trump said that if the cost of the parade was exorbitant, he would choose not to have it.
“We’ll see if we can do it at a reasonable cost, and if we can’t, we won’t do it, but the generals would love to do it, I can tell you, and so would I,” he said.
However, this week, the Pentagon released a memo noting that the parade will go on as scheduled.
Although the president assured Americans that there won’t be tanks rolling down the streets, the display of military might will be a logistical nightmare for whatever poor units get stuck with doing it. And, all of it will be for Trump—not the troops.
Instead of chest pumping and back patting, if Trump wants to support the troops and veterans, he should start by addressing the problems plaguing them right now. Sadly, none of this has happened.
When 307,000 veterans die waiting for care they were promised by this country while the president gloats over military equipment, something is seriously wrong.
When the entire country looks the other way while there over 40,000 veterans living on the streets with no home as the president forces active duty military members to put on a show for him, something is seriously wrong.
When Americans remain silent as a veteran kills himself or herself every 65 minutes, every single day, every single month, of every single year as troops and humvees parade down Pennsylvania Avenue celebrating the war that caused these deaths, it’s time to seriously consider a national conversation about what “support the troops” really means. And no parade will ever do that.