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Douglas Morris: All American workers deserve military benefits

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About an hour ago

Right now every American worker is on the front lines of the war against a lethal viral pathogen, especially U.S. nurses, doctors and other medical personnel. So are our retail, food service, delivery and transportation workers, as well as many others who earn a low minimum wage without any benefits.

American workers are courageously putting their lives on the line to keep the economy running as the entire nation does battle against this deadly global pandemic. These American workers putting themselves in harm’s way have just as much right to be protected and insured the same as the U.S. military.

And what coverage the U.S. military gets. They receive comprehensive health and dental care, quality pensions, free or inexpensive university benefits, paid sick leave, subsidized food and housing, 30 days of vacation annually, even subsidized vacations, and much, much more. In fact, what the U.S. military receives is far more comprehensive than any of the social democracies in Europe.

Yes, the reason that our servicemen and women have all these necessary benefits is that they routinely put their lives on the line in service to our country. However, many U.S. workers also put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep America thriving, and not just during a lethal global pandemic. On average, more regular U.S. workers die while on the job from work related accidents every year than U.S. military personnel.

A recent Congressional Report indicates that “since 2006 … a total of 16,652 active-duty personnel and mobilized reservists have died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Seventy-three percent of these casualties occurred under circumstances unrelated to war.”

Clearly, it’s not just war that is dangerous, but also training for war. Even so, despite the perils associated with serving in the military, statistics show that more regular U.S. workers die every year than those who serve in the armed forces.

If a total of 16,652 U.S. military have died from 2006 to 2018, that is a tragic 1,388 loss of life on average each year. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that there were 5,147 workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2017 alone. That’s almost four times the U.S. military annual average.

Even with such data, instead of realizing the importance of U.S. workers and valuing them the same as U.S. service members, the U.S. government continues to roll back worker protection, and regularly undervalues workers by being the only developed nation in the world not to offer paid sick days, or legally mandated vacation days, or universal health care, or universal pension plans, or so much more.

Maybe covid-19 will wake the country, its people and our politicians up to the importance of the American worker. Without the individuals laboring on the front lines of U.S. capitalism, working in hospitals, serving in restaurants, helping in stores, delivering products, keeping the wheels of commerce rolling, the entire country would grind to a halt. No one would make any money without American workers putting their lives on the line every day.

These workers are the tip of the spear of the American way of life, especially now during a global pandemic. So let’s start protecting our nation’s most important resource — its people — by considering the possibility of offering military benefits for every American worker.

Douglas Morris is the proud son of generations of U.S. servicemen and author of “It’s a Sprawl World After All.” He lives in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Coronavirus | Featured Commentary | Opinion

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