On this day that we stop to remember the contributions of our service men and women, what’s being said about veterans and their needs on Veterans Day?
President Barack Obama said that there have been times in the past when America didn’t stand by its veterans. Obama pledged that this wouldn’t happen again:
That is my message to all veterans today. That is my message to all who serve in harm's way. To the husbands and wives back home doing the parenting of two. To the parents who watch their sons and daughters go off to war, and the children who wonder when mom and dad is coming home. To all our wounded warriors, and to the families who laid a loved one to rest. America will not let you down. We will take care of our own.
And to those who are serving in far-flung places today, when your tour ends, when you see our flag, when you touch our soil, you will be home in an America that is forever here for you just as you've been there for us. That is my promise – our nation's promise – to you.Veterans for Common Sense, a veterans’ advocacy organization, said that today’s observance offers the opportunity to raise awareness about the mental health needs of service members, veterans, and families:
Of the two million U.S. service members deployed to the two war zones since 2001, researchers at Stanford University estimated 500,000 or more Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are likely to return home with mental health conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder…
As more and more service members deploy to war and redeploy home, the scope of the health care crisis among our veterans continues to worsen…
Our list of concerns included the need for more military mental health care providers, the need for universal, mandatory medical exams before and after going to war, and the need for a stronger anti-stigma message to encourage our soldiers and veterans to seek care.An article in the Christian Science Monitor, “Veterans Day Highlights New Efforts to Help Homeless Vets,” said veterans have a high rate of homelessness:
An estimated 131,000 former members of the armed services are homeless – with vets twice as likely as non-vets to be out on the streets. With high unemployment a nationwide problem, vets face higher-than-average jobless rates as well.
New initiatives by President Obama, by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and by members of Congress focus on improving living standards for veterans.On Veterans Day and throughout the year, we need to think through and take action on ways the federal government, local and state governments, veterans groups, community groups, foundations, religious organizations, educational institutions, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and Americans citizens can improve the lives veterans.