This is an opinion piece that does not necessarily reflect the views of MilSpouseFest.
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed rumors that President Trump had requested a military parade in Washington, D.C., saying “President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
To put it bluntly, the military community doesn’t need a parade to be thanked by civilians. We’ve got holidays that have become almost sacred in our culture. Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, not to mention nearly the entirety of May and November, are replete with celebrations, observances, discounts, and remembrances of the military community and their sacrifices. Thanking service members and veterans has become ubiquitous within our society–and with good reason, as an all-volunteer force carries the weight of 17 consecutive years of war on its collective back.
A military parade has real-life costs. Shipping tanks and equipment costs millions of dollars; travel for troops, their lodging, their food, and other ancillary costs are expensive. Don’t forget the security measures, crowd-control needs, the damage tanks and other military equipment could do to roads. The Washington Post reports that military brass doesn’t know how they’d pay for it.
Preliminary polling shows that the military community itself doesn’t want a grand military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Nearly 90 percent of more than 50 thousand respondents to a Military Times poll indicated that a military parade is a waste of money. Online and in the media, individual veterans have already spoken out against the idea.
The truth is, the military community itself doesn’t think that we need a parade, whatever the motives.
What do we need? Well, the military community needs a lot of things that have nothing to do with a few fleeting hours and millions of dollars of spectacle.
We need TRICARE to function better, to do better, and be better.
We need DoDEA to protect students who are sexually harassed and assaulted by their peers.
We need leadership to stop passing the buck and to make real and systemic changes to a system that continues to enable predators within its ranks.
We need to shrink the military-civilian gap as fewer and fewer Americans understand truly what military service entails and as demands continue to be thrust on an all-volunteer force.
And while we’re talking about it, we need the academies to be safe places for future service members, too.
We need more stability for spouses who want to continue their careers or education while their partner is serving.
We need the current administration to stop attacking LGBT service members and their families with false information, fear, and bigotry.
We need better safety standards and protocols for people and equipment so that needless accidents that cost precious lives are avoided as much as possible.
We need cleaned-up installations so our kids aren’t poisoned by experiments of a century they weren’t born in. . . or at the very least, make sure their drinking water doesn’t have dead things floating in it.
We need politicians who understand the human cost of endless war, deployments, and saber-rattling.
We need more support for EFMP families who navigate a dizzying array of services and providers and confusion.
We need more affordable, more accessible, high quality child care for our kids so that families aren’t stuck on wait lists forever.
We need a VA health care system that can better deal with the decades-long after effects of war, PTSD, TBI, mental health issues, and drug addiction.
We need actual, comprehensive, systemic solutions to veteran homelessness and poverty.
We need to protect immigrants who serve our country so they aren’t deported, or aren’t worried about their family’s status while they’re deployed, or, should they pass away, their international family is able to attend their funeral.
We need to be honest about the strain military service can put on a family’s finances and not vilify those who make ends meet with WIC and food stamps.
We need an administration that takes seriously the sacrifices of services members and their families, instead of turning them into media circuses.
We need internet trolls–from within and without the community–to stop harassing, belittling, shaming, and stalking female service members.
We need arm chair patriots to stop prying into the most awful, horrible moments of Gold Star families’ lives and turning them into self-serving memes without their permissions.
We need politicians to stop using the military and their families as political footballs.
But a gigantic parade? Nah. We don’t need that.
By J.G. Noll