Monday, May 31, 2010

A Memorial Day Message

On this Memorial Day, I’d like to make a plea for some forgotten people.

Humanitarian aid and development workers deserve benefits similar to what military veterans receive.

These people perform an invaluable service for our country, helping others in war-torn, impoverished, and devastated areas of the world. Wherever they go, they give everything they’ve got to the populations they work with and everything they do improves the standing of the United States around the world.

Increasingly, they are coming under attack. The group Médecins Sans Frontières spent 24 years in Afghanistan (since the beginning of the Soviet-Afghan war), only pulling out after the deaths of several doctors. Dozens of Red Cross workers have died in areas of man-made and natural disaster.

Most humanitarian and development workers make little if any money. Peace Corps workers, for example, are volunteers. All they get is a temporary deferment on their student loans while actually working for the Corps.

Although many are private contractors, our government should provide them with at least the education and healthcare benefits our soldiers are rewarded with.

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