By Michael Moore
I don’t support the troops, America, and neither do you. I am writing this as I have just learned of the suicides of two more of our active duty reservists who live here in the Traverse City, Michigan area. That brings the total number of soldier suicides (that I know of) in the past year, in this rural area, to four.
I am tired of the ruse we are playing on these brave citizens in our armed forces. And guess what — a lot of these soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines see right through the
bull**** of those words, “I support the troops!,” spoken by Americans with such false sincerity — false because our actions don’t match our words. These young men and women sign up to risk their very lives to protect us — and this is what they get in return:
1. They get sent off to wars that have NOTHING to do with defending America or saving our lives. They are used as pawns so that the military-industrial complex can make billions of dollars and the rich here can expand their empire. By “supporting the troops,” that means I’m supposed to shut up, don’t ask questions, do nothing to stop the madness, and sit by and watch thousands of them die? Well, I’ve done an awful lot to try and end this. But the only way you can honestly say you support the troops is to work night and day to get them out of these hell holes they’ve been sent to. And what have I done this week to bring the troops home? Nothing. So if I say “I support the troops,” don’t believe me — I clearly don’t support the troops because I’ve got more important things to do today, like return an iPhone that doesn’t work and take my car in for a tune up.
2. While the troops we claim to “support” are serving their country, bankers who say they too “support the troops” foreclose on the actual homes of these soldiers and evict their families while they are overseas! Have I gone and stood in front of the sheriff’s deputy as he is throwing a military family out of their home? No. And there’s your proof that I don’t “support the troops,” because if I did, I would organize mass sit-ins to block the doors of these homes. Instead, I’m having Chilean sea bass tonight.
3. How many of you who say you “support the troops” have visited a VA hospital to bring aid and comfort to the sick and wounded? I haven’t. How many of you have any clue what it’s like to deal with the VA? I don’t. Therefore, you would be safe to say that I don’t “support the troops,” and neither do you.
4. Who amongst you big enthusiastic “supporters of the troops” can tell me the approximate number of service women who have been raped while in the military? Answer: 19,000 (mostly) female troops are raped or sexually assaulted every year by fellow American troops. What have you or I done to bring these criminals to justice? What’s that you say — out of sight, out of mind? These women have suffered, and I’ve done nothing. So don’t ever let me get away with telling you I “support the troops” because, sadly, I don’t. And neither do you.
5. Help a homeless vet today? How ’bout yesterday? Last week? Last year? Ever? But I thought you “support the troops!”? The number of homeless veterans is staggering — on any given night, at least 60,000 veterans are sleeping on the streets of the country that proudly “supports the troops.” This is disgraceful and shameful, isn’t it? And it exposes all those “troop supporters” who always vote against social programs that would help these veterans. Tonight there are at least 12,700 Iraq/Afghanistan veterans homeless and sleeping on the street. I’ve never lent a helping hand to one of the many vets I’ve seen sleeping on the street. I can’t bear to look, and I walk past them very quickly. That’s called not “supporting the troops,” which, I guess, I don’t — and neither do you.
6. And you know, the beautiful thing about all this “support” you and I have been giving the troops — they feel this love and support so much, a record number of them are killing themselves every single week. In fact, there are now more soldiers killing themselves than soldiers being killed in combat (323 suicides in 2012 through November vs. about 210 combat deaths). Yes, you are more likely to die by your own hand in the United States military than by al Qaeda or the Taliban. And an estimated eighteen veterans kill themselves each day, or one in five of all U.S. suicides — though no one really knows because we don’t bother to keep track. Now, that’s what I call support! These troops are really feeling the love, people! Lemme hear you say it again: “I support the troops!” Louder! “I SUPPORT THE TROOPS!!” There, that’s better. I’m sure they heard us. Don’t forget to fly our flag, wear your flag lapel pin, and never, ever let a service member pass you by without saying, “Thank you for your service!” I’m sure that’s all they need to keep from putting a bullet in their heads. Do your best to keep your “support” up for the troops because, God knows, I certainly can’t any longer.
Don’t Become the Next Statistic
I don’t “support the troops” or any of those other hollow and hypocritical platitudes uttered by Republicans and frightened Democrats. Here’s what I do support: I support them coming home. I support them being treated well. I support peace, and I beg any young person reading this who’s thinking of joining the armed forces to please reconsider. Our war department has done little to show you they won’t recklessly put your young life in harm’s way for a cause that has nothing to do with what you signed up for. They will not help you once they’ve used you and spit you back into society. If you’re a woman, they will not protect you from rapists in their ranks. And because you have a conscience and you know right from wrong, you do not want yourself being used to kill civilians in other countries who never did anything to hurt us. We are currently involved in at least a half-dozen military actions around the world. Don’t become the next statistic so that General Electric can post another record profit — while paying no taxes — taxes that otherwise would be paying for the artificial leg that they’ve kept you waiting for months to receive.
I support you, and will try to do more to be there for you. And the best way you can support me — and the ideals our country says it believes in — is to get out of the military as soon as you can and never look back.
And please, next time some “supporter of the troops” says to you with that concerned look on their face, “I thank you for your service,” you have my permission to punch their lights out (figuratively speaking, of course).
(There is something I’ve done to support the troops — other than help lead the effort to stop these senseless wars. At the movie theater I run in Michigan, I became the first person in town to institute an affirmative action plan for hiring returning Iraq/Afghanistan vets. I am working to get more businesses in town to join with me in this effort to find jobs for these returning soldiers. I also let all service members in to the movies for free, every day.) Φ
Michael Moore is an activist and film maker.