Along with family gatherings and counting one’s blessings, Thanksgiving has come to signify a rather rosy view of the unity of American society. This weekend, however, two largely overlooked news items—one about unexpected financial issues that some wounded American veterans face and another about hunger in New York City—tell a different story.
First, much has been made of the need to support our troops at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, as wounded veteran Jordan Fox found out rather abruptly, some government officials don’t always make sure that U.S. forces get the treatment they deserve when injuries prevent them from continuing their service. Fox, who returned from Iraq to his native Pennsylvania after a roadside bomb made him blind in one eye, discovered shortly after his homecoming that the Department of Defense wanted him to return some of the money he received when he enlisted:
A few weeks later, Fox received a bill from the Department of Defense, saying he owes the military nearly $3,000 from his original enlistment bonus because he couldn’t fulfill three months of his commitment.
“I tried to do my best and serve my country and unfortunately I was hurt in the process and now they’re telling me that they want their money back,” Fox told CBS station KDKA-TV.
This is apparently not an isolated bureaucratic foul-up. The military is allegedly demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.
Next, it apparently took another country’s news media to take note of some startling statistics about hunger in one of America’s biggest cities. The BBC reported Wednesday that “[o]ver 1.3 million people, one in six New Yorkers, cannot afford enough food, with queues at soup kitchens getting longer,” according to anti-poverty groups based in New York. What’s more, some of the city’s food distribution outlets were unable to serve turkey dinners Thursday because of drastic cuts to federal food supplies:
The New York City Coalition Against Hunger says the number of people who use food pantries and soup kitchens in the city increased by 20% in 2007.
Some of the food distribution points are struggling to meet demand.
The coalition blames the situation mainly on increased poverty as well as government cutbacks in food aid.
In this photo from a Thanksgiving past at the White House, Bush pardons a turkey named Katie.