A sad day for Montana’s Veterans.

April 29, 2013

Names of Vietnam veterans at Vietnam Veterans ...

The 63rd session of the Montana legislature adjourned April 24th 2013. All the bills that had not yet been passed by both houses died on that day. This includes House Bill 153.

I know it doesn’t mean much coming from me, because I’m not a legislator, but I am deeply saddened, that this one didn’t make it.

This bill was the centerpiece of one of my previous articles “A Glimmer of Hope, in an otherwise Dismal Partisan Landscape.” This bill would have created a tax credit for employers who hire and retain military veterans. As I mentioned in my previous article, I never had the honor of serving our country, but I know a lot of people who did. Many of these men and women, came back from the wars, broken. Some physically, some mentally, and some have both problems to deal with, as they try to get on with their lives.

When some of the people I knew growing up, started to come back from the wars, I was literally shocked and appalled by some of the stories they told me. I’m not talking about the things they saw, or had to do, when they were over seas. In fact I’ve never asked about that, and I don’t plan to. I’m talking about how they were treated when they got home.

You see, I wasn’t around for Vietnam, but I know about the riots, and the protests. College students burning our flag, and pelting our returning soldiers with dog droppings, or dowsing them with pigs blood. The way people talk about those things today, I thought our civilian population had thought better of such things, and I guess in a lot of ways they have, but not enough.

There are people and businesses in this country, that publicly announce their support for our troops, but when one of them shows up for a job interview, they tell them they aren’t comfortable hiring somebody who has been trained to kill.

Maybe I’m ignorant, or unusually intelligent, but I don’t understand their thinking. We’re not talking about ex-cons, but it sure looks to me, like the same perception is being applied. I understand that most people find it unpleasant when they try to imagine killing another human being. Most would say something like, “maybe if they were trying to kill me, or my wife and kids, but I wouldn’t feel good about it.” I know enough to know, that’s exactly what these men and women were doing over there.

Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, aren’t documented sociopaths, and violent criminals. If you sit down for an interview with a recruiter, and tell them you want to join so you can kill people, they’ll throw your application in the garbage, and tell you to see a therapist. The people we send to defend our country, are good people, and in a lot of ways, better than a lot of us.

I do realize this situation isn’t nearly as prevalent here in Montana, but it isn’t non-existent. Our lawmakers can’t force people to think differently, but they can create incentives, for people and employers to do the right thing. In my mind that’s exactly what this bill was intended to do.

Unfortunately, my disappointment with this bill’s failure, isn’t solely derived from it’s intended purpose. As I mentioned in my previous article, I was enthusiastic about this bill, because it was widely supported in the house. The deeper I dig myself into the world of politics, the more I have cause to look at the future, with doubt and concern. Anymore, the word cooperation, has been almost entirely replaced with the word concession, and it’s usually expressed with a tone of discontent.

I don’t really expect this bill would have gotten a whole lot of media attention, if it had made it through, but I’m fairly confident, if it had, any legislators who may have commented on it, would likely have asserted a positive tone, if questioned about the cooperation between the parties. That’s just something I don’t see very often anymore, and it didn’t happen.

I honestly don’t know how the legislature prioritizes bills, but I would think it would be more efficient to get the easy ones out of the way first. I don’t know if it’s a strict matter of first come first serve. If it is I apologize, but if it’s just plain politics, I am sincerely disappointed.

So where do we go from here? As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t pay too much attention to legislative procedure. As far as I know, they’re done until 2015, unless there’s a special session, but I don’t know how that works either. I expect special sessions require special reasons.

The only thing I know we can do, is remember this bill, and make sure our legislators remember it too. Maybe we can even get a few candidates here, to make a campaign promise out if it, during the next election season, but that would really depend on how many people are still talking about it next year.

I for one, don’t plan on sitting and waiting. I was talking about this bill when it was in the legislature, I’m talking about it now, and I’ll continue to talk about it, but I’m only one voice. Many of our veterans went to war and fought for us. Something like this doesn’t even compare to what they did for us, but this is an opportunity for us to fight for them, are you going to look the other way?

Glenn W. Uncles Jr.

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