I was profoundly saddened - and angry - to read an article in the New York Post about Army dogs from Afghanistan that were 'retrained' (after a fashion) and then distributed to any civilian applicants who wanted them, irrespective of promises made to their former military handlers, many of whom wanted to adopt their former comrades in arms. Their despair and frustration is painful to read.
It's brought back many memories of broken promises made by the South African Defense Force to many of its soldiers at the end of the so-called Border War. In particular, the former Portuguese colonial soldiers of 32 Battalion and the Bushman trackers of 31 Battalion SWATF were taken (grudgingly) to South Africa, rehoused in a desolate, remote part of the country, then dismissed from the Defense Force and left to their own devices. They were expendable. There was no sense of loyalty from the powers that be towards them . . . only from their former comrades in arms, who were angry and upset at how they had been treated. We did what we could, but our pleas were ignored. In the new political reality in South Africa, there was no time, place or compassion for them.
The USA has had similar problems. The treatment of Vietnam veterans is well-known. After the 9/11 attacks, servicemen were relatively well regarded for several years and received much public support; but in more recent years, particularly as the Obama administration has sought to downplay military activities and reduce troops overseas, some of my friends in uniform report that they're getting more and more negative reactions from left-wing and progressive sections of the population. In particular, the delays in distributing, collecting and counting military votes during the last Presidential election were never properly investigated or dealt with, to the fury of those who'd been deprived of their democratic voice. The Post article is merely the latest incident in a long line of what I might call "don't-care-about-the-military" episodes.
Kipling put it well:
In times of war and not before,
God and the soldier we adore.
But in times of peace and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.