Veterans Deserve Additional Support

Kevork Tchakmakjian, Staff Writer

Veterans Day – which fell this year on November 11 – is the day citizens recognize veterans who have served our country in times of war. But are our veterans receiving the care and compassion they deserve from the society they have served?

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans. Most are single, live in unsanitary environments, and suffer from mental illnesses or substance abuse. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says 11-20% of veterans who served in the Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in any given year. Also, “about 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year.”

According to the American Psychological Association, only 3.6% of American adults from 18-54 are affected by PTSD, much less than the veteran average.

Veterans need assistance after returning from battle, but many lack a support network and access to adequate healthcare. They sacrificed years of their lives, fought for our country, and should be revered. To allow veterans to suffer silently after serving is a disservice.

War is a terrifying environment that no human should ever face. Many soldiers suffer the repercussions of witnessing tragedy but are not provided proper psychological support.

It’s also appalling that young veterans aren’t getting the aid they need after fighting in a war. They aren’t even halfway through their life, yet struggle with getting a job, having a home, and getting food.  

As The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans wrote, “homeless veterans are younger on average than the total veteran population. Approximately 9% are between the ages of 18 and 30, and 41% are between the ages of 31 and 50. Conversely, only 5% of all veterans are between the ages of 18 and 30, and less than 23% are between 31 and 50.”

Visiting with homeless veterans service providers or involving others who are as interested to attack this issue are some ways people can make a small, but powerful contribution for veterans. Making donations or participating in local homeless coalitions is also critical.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers many different opportunities that can help veterans with health care, benefits, and memorials.

Organizations, such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), also attempt to support veterans and their families, giving resources and employment to make sure that they have opportunities after their service has ended.

While this is an excellent start, it is not to the scale that our large population of veterans needs.

It’s important to acknowledge the selfless sacrifice veterans make and honor it with federal support. As citizens, we should understand that veterans have fought for the safety and freedom we enjoy.

We must protect veterans to protect the future of our country.