Our Opinion: Our many obligations to America's veterans

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. That was the date and time in 1918 when the armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compi gne, France, marking the cessation of hostilities of the "war to end all wars."

With sadness and gratitude, our nation now marks that day as Veterans Day. Sadness, because of the many Novembers since 1918 when our nation has once again found itself at war, including today. And gratitude for the men and woman — some 18.5 million among us — who have served in the United States armed forces, many of them tasked with society's toughest work, its most dangerous work in seeking the betterment of our broken world.

Our nation's collective vow to servicemen and servicewomen should be — must be — that they need not bear their sacrifice and wounds alone, that they won't be forgotten. While the federal government continues its middling efforts to make due on this promise, the commonwealth has announced enhanced efforts with regards to veterans' services that are worthy of applause.

Attorney General Maura Healey has announced the creation of a new position within her office: Veterans Affairs Coordinator for the Attorney General's Office. The man she appointed, David Bolcome, is a Marine combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan. A senior investigator in Attorney General Healey's Civil Investigations Division, Bolcome is now the office's point man for issues and initiatives within the Massachusetts veterans community.

Specifically, the new position is charged with strengthening the lines of communication between the Attorney General's Office and the veteran and servicemember community; helping to identify issues that affect veterans, service members and their families; and developing collaborative partnerships that will enhance the services and assistance offered to those in need.

In addition, Attorney General Healey's Consumer Advocacy and Response Division has strengthened its team of consumer specialists that handle calls to its hotline and review complaints focused on veteran-specific issues, including accessing earned benefits. Since January 2017, more than 1,200 veterans and servicemembers have filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office on a wide variety of issues. With a bolstered response team, veterans should expect timelier and more comprehensive assistance.

Among the many obligations owned our servicemen and women is that they be sent into harm's way only when absolutely necessary for the nation's defense. Military adventures concocted by draft-avoiding, chest-thumping presidents, think tank theorists, and ambitious, careerist military brass don't meet that criteria. As the war in Afghanistan drags on years past its expiration debate, Washington shouldn't swagger its way into more foreign tragedies.


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