Washington, DC — (ReleaseWire) — 12/24/2015 —America once loved the little guy who fought the long odds and won. For those familiar with advocacy and funding on behalf of soldiers and veterans some very salient facets emerge: One of which is that those who benefit most are seldom the regular fighting men and women, the veterans themselves. This is an untold story—or series of stories—that the media has largely failed to tell. The Uniformed Services and Justice Advocacy Group (USJAG) invites the press to remedy this shortfall.
Despite prolific media coverage of wars and soldiers, veterans and their return home, there’s a set of stories that has not yet been told. The unabashed exploitation of the regular Joe by virtually every sector of our society, from the first to the fourth Estate: By academics and justice professionals, by a myriad of functionaries milling about the buzzing cubicles of a slate of Federal Agencies, by a wide swathe of the non-profit and healthcare sectors. Thousands of highly paid bureaucrats and service-delivery professionals have reaped colossal benefit from advocating on behalf of the common service member: Put 10,000,000 dollars into a program that assists veterans and you can almost guarantee a paltry 5% will ever touch a veteran’s hand.
For the veteran’s organizations founded and run by former enlisted military personnel the funding and systemic struggles are quite familiar. If you ask organizations like the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Veterans for Common Sense or Swords to Plowshares (S2PS) they will understand. There’s another such organization on the veterans advocacy landscape, newer than those named: The Uniformed Services and Justice Advocacy Group (USJAG). Founded and run by former enlisted personnel, with backing from some solid Board members who served as Officers in the various branches of our military, is a well known organization. They have appeared in stories by virtually every major media outlet from CNN to the New York Times and from Al-Jazeera America to National Public Radio (NPR).
The Uniformed Services and Justice Advocacy Group (USJAG) and its members have, for some years, taken on the Department of Defense, toxic leadership within some portions of our military, and a wide slate of naysayers sprinkled across State and Federal Agencies of many stripes. The organization’s membership has changed policy, helped, literally, hundreds of multiple combat-tour veterans who stood on the verge of getting kicked to the curb without compensation or access to healthcare. The organization represents the quintessential little guy fighting long odds. Their work represents meaningful social justice advocacy on behalf of wounded warriors–and this work has spanned years. It’s not a multi-million dollar research project which, over the course of years, produces dry reports followed by equally dry recommendations which will never be followed. This is a brand of advocacy that yields results and helps veterans.
Maligned and hindered by military base commanders, stone-walled by a variety of public officials and subject to a variety of retaliatory actions, the group has soldiered on, applauded by many regular soldiers and veterans. Guess how well funded this veterans advocacy organization is? Guess. They are the national leaders in advocacy on behalf of veterans who our military kicks out, after multiple combat tours, with less than honorable discharges for disciplinary infractions stemming from their combat trauma? Guess. Over the course of years the organization has received a grand total of $16,500–and $11,000 of that was during the month of December 2015.
While others spend millions admiring the problem, USJAG is doing real work to stop these reprehensible practices.
This is an unabashed challenge to the media of the United States: Engage in some real investigative journalism. Conduct a meaningful examination of well-funded veterans organizations and the big recipients of funding ear-marked for veterans and quantify their respective levels of impact–how many lives do they really assist? How much funding have they received to do what they do? Then look at the veterans organizations who really take the risks and yield results that actually help veterans. In the process of conducting such a needed piece of investigative journalism, please ensure that you ask well-versed former enlisted veterans what they think. This is our challenge to journalists.