Beyond the banner

There are better ways to honor our military heroes than by hanging their faces on a light post

The local group Chico Military Heroes has its heart in the right place with its mission to support current local military personnel. But we argue once again that its proposal to hang giant banners with individual photographs is misguided. That proposal is coming back to the City Council and the group hopes to hang the banners by December.

We urge the council to consider a few key things while determining the fate of this banner project. First, several military veterans have spoken out against the proposal, noting that there are better ways to honor Chico’s active servicemen and women. We agree. It’s been widely documented that when military personnel return to civilian life, they face great challenges, namely in finding employment and dealing with physical and emotional wounds. We suggest that taking the more than $15,000 the group likely will pay for the banners and putting it toward a housing fund—to help returning servicemembers pay for a home while seeking employment—would be a better use of the funds.

Second, we must look at the plight faced by America’s veterans. Many of them are homeless across the nation and in our own community. They struggle with physical and mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, which can affect every aspect of their lives. Creating a fund to increase access to critical services like a local veterans clinic or donating to active local nonprofits like Vectors, which provides transitional housing for homeless vets, would be an awesome tribute to their service to our nation.

We salute Chico Military Heroes and their efforts to show support for local military personnel. But a banner, while visibly striking, will not help a single service person in a substantive way. Therefore, we urge the group to use its funding to put something in place to truly aid those who struggle the most upon returning home.