This week, the politically biting and brilliant editorial cartoonist/animator Mark Fiore tackles the myriad holes that have been reported of late in society's veteran safety net. To absolutely get the full effect of this admittedly dark piece of comic humor, please view his latest animation, The Surge at Home, aptly narrated by "your Pentagon pal 'Ouchy.'"
While the animation can't be done justice with a handful of stills or a brief run-through of the narration as I've attempted here, the clip itself is very much worthy of recording for posterity. And so, I hope Mr. Fiore will allow me the latitude to share the following with you for educational (and -- yes -- humorous) purposes. In gratitude. -- Ilona Meagher
The opening screen reads, "Now that the surge has made everything hunky-dory in Iraq...let's check in on...The Surge at Home!"
Our Pentagon pal, Ouchy, takes us through a series of homeland surges. First up: The Surge of Letters that have been sent out to wounded veterans seeking repayment of enlistment bonus monies due to not having fulfilled their contract. As Ouchy says, "Why should the Pentagon pay you to sit at home and be wounded?"
While marching band music plays enthusiastically in the background, Ouchy tells of The Survey Surge, saying, "Now that the Army realizes it may take more than one form to find out what's going on in your head..." there's been an increase in returning troops reporting mental health issues.
All of this is great training, Ouchy says, for The Uninsured Surge. He continues in his high-pitched and enthusiastic voice, "Forget Army of One! Now you're in the Army of 5.6 million!" [This figure, I believe, Fiore extrapolates from the 1.7 million veterans found to be uninsured; his figure includes military family members as well.]
Never fear, because this may eventually lead you to the next leg of the journey, The Homeless Surge, says Ouchy. That mission is "already manned with 200,000 a night and about to be reinforced" with new homeless recruits from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, already reported to be at 1,500.
"And of course," Ouchy says, "the recently revealed Suicide Surge" in which over 6,000 veterans committed suicide in one year [the year was 2005]. The blabbering band aid finishes with a flourish, proudly stating, "This might be the best kept wartime secret ever!"
Admittedly, while this is gallows humor at its finest and may not be entirely appropriate for all who visit this site, I felt that it did a really good job of hitting on all of the data that's come out recently. The onslaught of data regarding veteran suicide and homelessness, by the way, will be the topic of an upcoming House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on December 12.
So, this animation is nothing if not timely.
If it helps to inform a few more people about these worrying statistics, and gets them to pick up the phone to their elected officials and/or ready do something even more substantive to help, then it's done a great service to moving the issues important to our military families forward.
At the close of his animation, Fiore includes two links: One for those who want to help, and one for those who might need it.
Bravo, Mr. Fiore, bravo.
And h/t to eagle-eye Kathie Costos.