Singular voices raise issues, collective voices move them ahead. And right now, President Trump’s attack on the United State Postal Service is moving a lot of veterans who depend on this long-standing institution to speak up. But it doesn’t stop at just the post office.
Older Americans, including tons of aging veterans, are speaking out about the President’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic along with its ripple effect on other parts of everyday life, including the economy.
The pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is killing more than a thousand Americans weekly. To date, more than 170,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, including a disproportionate number of older veterans, many of whom carry with them health problems from long ago wars. The deadly microbe is also putting the economy in a strangle hold.
Unemployment is hovering above ten percent and record numbers of workers are filing for unemployment benefits. In the first week of August, slightly more than 1.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims.
While the coronavirus and the Post Office might seem like disparate issues, are anything but to millions of veterans who receive their medicine via the mail. Veterans like retired Pueblo educator Heraldo Acosta see the President’s assault on the mail as an attack on democracy.
“If I go to your house and steal your mail, it’s a federal offense,” he said. “He’s (Trump) hijacking our mail. He’s doing it because he can and no Republican is stopping him,” said the Air Force veteran. The retired Assistant Dean of Students at California’s Saint Mary College said, “It’s wrong. And no one in his party is standing up (to him).”
Former La Voz contributor and U.S. Marine and Army veteran, Captain George Autobee (Ret.) works with veteran groups in Pueblo. Almost to a person, said Autobee, the veterans he speaks to are troubled by a number of policies this President has undertaken that hurt veterans, but few as emotional as his attack on the Post Office.
“It’s disrespect to our veterans,” said Autobee. “The groups I’m dealing with,” he said, “are pretty upset.” Autobee, a veteran of both Viet Nam and Iraq, said countless veterans are worried that if the President makes significant changes in mail delivery, their VA medications will be delayed or worse. “I spent ten years as an Army medic,” he said. “We’re in the middle of a biological war with this virus and he has not done what he had to do with testing or tracing.”
Autobee, himself, receives medication for two conditions and waits on his medicine monthly or bi-monthly. “Normally, it’s just seven to ten days (for arrival),” he said. If they’re delayed, he can get to a pharmacy. But he has friends who don’t have that luxury. “My situation is not nearly as critical as theirs,” he said. “I’ve got friends who use their insulin every time they eat.” Without the confidence that their medicine will arrive in time, Autobee said, they’d be in trouble. Or worse.
While there are certainly Latinos who plan to stick with Trump and believe that ‘no President has done as much for Latinos as him,’ Autobee said he has never gotten that impression from the Latino veterans he talks to as he moves across the various Pueblo groups. It’s not true, he said. “He’s (Trump) trying to use his reality to overcome what’s really happening.”
One Marine Corps and Viet Nam era veteran who asked his name not be used, said he never thought in his lifetime that he’d see a pandemic like coronavirus or a sitting President “admitting to voter suppression.”