The cost of war is not just measured in dollars and statistics. Beyond those numbers are the faces of individual veterans, who’ve taken on the hidden costs of war.
Veterans put their lives on the line defending the Constitution, and they come back with scars, both seen and unseen.
The Constitution they’ve served is clear on what Congress’ role is in military engagement. But for too long, Congress has ignored its duties.
As a 22-year veteran, CVA Special Advisor Jason Beardsley has first-hand experience with the costs American servicemen and women are paying in today’s unchecked wars. He recently made a strong case for why Congress must repeal outdated AUMFs in The Hill.
Veterans organizations all over the country do their best to ensure veterans have what they need to thrive in post-service life. But that noble work copes with the symptoms of congressional malaise — the legislature’s persistent unwillingness to make tough, responsible decisions about military engagement.
The 1957, 1991 and 2002 AUMFs each authorized some form of engagement in the Middle East — combatting communism through security assistance and authorizing operations in the first and second Iraq Wars, respectively. None of these AUMFs are the sole authority for any ongoing operations, yet they remain a potentially abusable back door to conflict without a congressional vote.
The hidden costs of unchecked wars are staggering: The VA will spend $2.5 trillion in veteran care by 2050, 40% of post-9/11 veterans have some form of disability, and four times more Global War on Terror veterans have died by suicide than died in combat.
The least our leaders can do for those who put their lives at risk is to follow the Constitution they swore to defend.
Those of us who served are more than just numbers and statistics. We are the tip of the spear who live the consequences of our leaders’ decisions. The least Congress can do is honor our oath to the Constitution by debating and voting on matters of war. If a situation arises that requires military action, Congress can address it at that point, not just rely on blank check authorization to get them out of doing their job.