The Constitution of the United States protects a number of different rights. People living in our country are able to enjoy those rights thanks to our powerful military and the brave men and women who volunteer to serve. Despite this, veterans in our country get mistreated on a regular basis.
Earlier this week, a veteran on his way home from Afghanistan had an airport experience he’ll never forget. Instead of showing him the appreciation he deserved, airline representatives charged him extra for his bags simply because they were slightly overweight. Despite arguing that it was completely unnecessary, they forced him to pay anyway.
According to reports, First Lieutenant John Radar, a National Guard officer returning home from a 21-month deployment, was made to pay United Airlines a $200 penalty fee for his bag, which contained “his Kevlar body armor, two helmets, and his boots,” was slightly overweight. Most airlines allow members of the military to check their bags for free.
However, United only does that for bags under 70 pounds. Since Radar’s bag weighed more than that, he was going to have to pay a fee. “I was told point blank that I’d have to pay $200 for the overage or find another bag to siphon stuff off with,” he recalled, adding, “well, I didn’t have another bag so I was caught in a bind, do I go home without my stuff or without it.”
As a soldier, he made it clear that he wasn’t looking for others to feel bad for him. “I’m not looking for sympathy, but some form of empathy in the situation. There was none of that. It was just cold. I had to either pay or leave the bag,” he told reporters.
After paying the fee and complaining about it online, United offered to repay the $200. Thankfully, that’s not enough for Radar. He’s demanding that the airlines change their policy so other soldiers are not faced with a similar situation. For veterans, every penny counts. “$200 can go a long way when you come back. Not a lot of people are compensated, so $200 comes out of pocket, you weren’t expecting it can change things, so I just want to make sure soldiers are cared for going forward,” he explained.
Radar’s comments about veterans needing all the help they can get are unfortunately completely true. In 2016, it was reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that roughly 453,000 veterans were unemployed. And according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, approximately 39,471 veterans are homeless. This is a major problem. These men and women literally put their lives on the line fighting for justice. The least we can do is take care of them adequately when they return home.
The last major company to disrespect our military was Starbucks. Earlier this year, they announced that they would be hiring 10,000 refugees in response to President Trump’s executive order temporarily halting travel from several countries in the Africa and the Middle East. Understandably, their announcement sparked a massive amount of outrage, which led to a boycott of the company. People were upset because, for many Americans, a U.S.-based company should prioritize hiring and helping American citizens before anyone else. Refugees and immigrants should not be given help if our veterans are struggling to make ends meet. They need to be taken care of first because they’re the reason we have our freedom in the first place.
Starbucks figured this out the hard way. As a result of the outrage, they decided to reaffirm their commitment to the military and launched a “Military Family Stores” program nationwide. Stores participating in this initiative are run almost entirely by veterans and spouses of those in the military and are making it easier for people who are in the military or have a loved one in the military to better care for themselves without having to rely on government handouts.
Conservatives must not tolerate any disrespect directed towards the military. United Airlines should be ashamed of themselves for treating this brave soldier the way they did. Given everything soldiers like Radar have done for our country, people in the military should be allowed to freely check all of their bags for free, regardless of the weight.