Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Not to utter words but to live by them."

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. "- John F. Kennedy

                As we honor our nations Armed Forces service men and women this Wednesday, November 11th, please take time to reflect upon a few unsettling facts. There is an estimated 50,000 homeless veterans in the United States with over a million at risk of becoming homeless in the future. Returning veterans face twice as much risk of homelessness than civilians due to lack of sufficient medical treatment, networking support and nontransferable military to workforce skills. Government services are becoming more restricted with over 40,000  homeless veterans currently receiving benefits or pensions. Tragically, this is not enough. According to the "National Coalition of Homeless Veterans", nearly half of our countries homeless veterans served in the Vietnam War. Today the number of homeless veterans is increasing as more and more service men and women return from Afghanistan and Iraq. Young veterans face a lack of social and community support upon reintegration to civilian life. On October 29th the US Senate passed the "Homeless Veterans  Services Protection Act" which safeguards veterans dismissed with "Other than Honorable" (OTH) discharges. Affordable housing and health care are still major issues for all returning veterans. The video above courtesy of a 2014 VICE News report is one of thousands of similar stories of suffering among our returning military members. (Contains strong language) 

            Respectfully, we take time to thank our veterans for their service with solemn speeches,  free meals and gallant parades to honor courage and bravery on November 11th. As we should.  But as one of the most prosperous countries in the world who depends upon the vigilance, elite training and selfless actions of our military 24/7, 365 days a year for our constant safety and security, how do we justify over 50,000 struggling veterans?