Today is Veterans Day and around town American flags are flying and a ceremony will honor the men and women who have served in the U.S. military. That’s great. We support our veterans. This morning on Veterans Day I read an article about the number of homeless U.S. veterans: 154,000 according to an estimate by the VA, and 5 percent, or 7,700 are female.
That is a disgrace!
Why are so many veterans homeless? Drugs, alcohol, personal choice to live on the streets? These are the main reasons we think of for homelessness — it’s their own fault. But veterans? Is it really their fault? Or does the system of support we have for our troops stop once they return from combat?
The reasons military veterans become homeless include civilian job loss for reservists due to repeated deployments or the inability to find a job once they finish their military service. The mental effects of combat, such as post traumatic stress disorder, can make readjustment to civilian life difficult and damage personal relationships. Depression and withdrawal often follow which make finding a job difficult.
Why don’t veterans seek help? The VA hospital is underfunded, understaffed and overwhelmed by the number of veterans seeking assistance. It needs money, plain and simple. Herein lies the rub. Americans don’t like giving the government money to increase programs. Big government is bad.
But how can we as Americans claim to support the men and women of the military if we don’t care what happens to them after they serve our country? We spend billions of dollars to fund the war, but very little on the care and treatment of the returning veteran who volunteered to do the fighting!
I hear lots talk about supporting our troops, but that support has to incorporate more than flying flags and once-a-year ceremonies. Don’t get me wrong.
As the daughter of a Navy man and the wife of a Marine, I think Veterans Day ceremonies are great, but it’s obvious by the number of homeless veterans that we as a country owe them much more.