By Katharine Macomber
Imagine you’ve just come home from serving in the United States Military. Maybe you had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Maybe you had been in non-combat missions somewhere else in the world. You bravely put yourself in harm’s way for the United States of America and suffered a great deal for it. You have been away from your family and friends and you’ve missed celebrations and milestones, suffered great stress and injury. You must deal with a host of reentry issues upon your return. You need to find a new job, and maybe you are struggling financially and with mental or physical problems. But surely the great country which you have just dedicated years of your life to defending will help you out!
Ehh, not so fast. Although veterans face a variety of issues, let’s focus on one: veteran homelessness. Although federal and state governments pump billions of dollars collectively into social welfare programs year after year, the veterans’ benefits seem weak in comparison. Still, about 13% of all homeless adults in the United States are veterans, and that ain’t right. Homelessness plagues millions of citizens throughout the nation; yet shouldn’t we be doing more to give back to those who have sacrificed so much for us? The Department of Veterans Affairs does provide some aid and healthcare to almost 150,000 homeless vets each year but that’s not nearly enough – treating the symptoms does not permanently solve the problem at large. Vets need comprehensive care in many cases, to ensure wellbeing and to prevent instances of homelessness.
Many charitable organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project are doing what many states cannot do for veterans, like aiding those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), ensuring that they can get the care they need and hopefully financial stability to ease back in to normal life. Thank God for organizations such as this. Unquestionably, the government is pressed for cash right now, we all get that, and we really don’t need to spend the inordinate amount of money that we do, but we can also prioritize. This isn’t a socialist nation and I believe in people working for themselves to get by, but it is unreasonable that we are unable to do more for our veterans. In an ideal world, there are not many things this government should be paying for, but this is one thing that absolutely needs to be of greater concern to our government, because it’s the least we can do for people that have defended our freedom with their lives.