Veterans Day march at Occupy Oakland

Veterans march at Occupy Oakland. (Photos: Bill Hackwell)
"How is the war economy working for you?"

The author is a Vietnam war veteran, co-founder of March Forward! and Occupy Oakland participant. As this report was being prepared for publication, the Oakland police once again attacked the Occupy Oakland camp.

In a driving rain, more than 500 veterans and their supporters marched from Occupy Oakland through the downtown streets, turning a day of traditional patriotic parades into a strong protest that clearly identified with the occupy encampments and the 99 percent movement sweeping the country.

The demonstration ended at the headquarters of the Oakland Police Department to protest police brutality and in particular the brutal OPD shooting in the head of Scott Olsen, a Marine Iraq war vet who is still recovering his ability to speak, though recently released from the hospital.

Veterans in increasing numbers are showing up to participate in the Occupy movement in cities and towns across the U.S. The majority of these are young men and women who have served in the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

One sign at the Oakland march clearly stated this development, “Veterans are part of the 99%.”

Opportunities for people in the military after they get out are dismal and even worse than the depression conditions facing the working class in general. Once discharged, thousands of veterans return to inadequate job training, housing and medical and social services. Often veterans are left to fend for themselves.

The Veterans Administration recently released a report stating that every 80 minutes a veteran commits suicide. As if to highlight this terrible trend, a young veteran killed himself in a tent in Vermont at Occupy Burlington on the eve of Veterans Day.

High suicide rates among veterans is nothing new, but it is now reaching epidemic proportions because of the criminal neglect that they face once out of the military. Congress loves to shed crocodile tears for the “brave men and women” fighting the wars for the 1 percent only to turn a blind eye upon their return.


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