Monday, November 12, 2007

Reflections on Veterans Day

Why Don't We Provide More to our Veterans??

It would seem at a time of war, we would take care of our veterans, but in looking at the current state of care to Veterans we are failing as a nation. This is an all volunteer force who go to a region in which 90% of the population holds Americans in the lowest regard. They view us as a big bully, and yet our brave men and women with the Stars and Stripes on their sleeve live in one of the most dangerous places on earth. They act as the police force in one of the most hostile environments ever created. We, in America, can only imagine how stressful it is to drive out of the "green zone" in most of Iraq. This is Fort Apache squared or Rwanda with sophisticated killing technology where any turn on any street can set off a car bomb. These guys have to be alert and ready every second that they are out of the "green zone."

Then they get back and find that the GI benefits are worth a fraction of what their father's and grandfather's GI benefits were worth. They struggle with the bureaucracy of the VA health care system. They have a high percentage of their fellow veterans becoming homeless. If they are injured they are often charged for the damage to their equipment or their signing bonus is reduced because they could not complete their term. Instead of getting tender loving care at home they get a bill from the military. They stand next to the mercenary army of private contractors who are risking their lives for hundreds of thousands of dollars more then the U.S. soldier is taking home in order to bring freedom to these two countries.

The government proclaims one holiday that most of the employers who are actually hiring workers today don't even provide as a vacation day. None of their fellow citizens are suffering or understand what we are demanding from our military. We still worry about the driving skills of Ms. Lohan or Britney Spear's custody battle while many of our veterans are worried about how they will pay the bills when they lost a leg and the federal government determined that they were only 60% disabled. This rating means that they will only get 60% of their disability check. How do they go back to their job as a a roofer or laborer if they struggle with walking? They went into the Army or Marines with both legs, but came back with one and the federal government has the nerve to determine their percentage of disability. These guys deserve the best health care and guaranteed access to housing and a job for life. Those seriously injured serving in the military deserve a middle class lifestyle for life. This is the price of going to war. Doesn't it make it harder to commit troops to a war if there are substantial domestic costs for years into the future with wounded troops? Or will the elected men and women who send our young citizens off to war be long retired when the bills come due for these foreign excursions into hostile countries?

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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