Today we have an op-ed piece by Jake Pannell.
Thank you for your service! Words that we here often and that most people generally mean but makes most veterans uncomfortable and awkward. Why? It has lost its value; it is politically correct and those that do not say are called unpatriotic or ungrateful. In this day and age of empty words and broken promises it is time that we take a look at what we actually do for veterans. As the song by Darryl Worley says, “Have you forgotten?”. After WWII veterans were welcomed as heroes and by the end of the Vietnam War spit upon. After 9/11 we had a resurgence of patriotism and support for the veterans and almost 20 years later, we speak of support with little to no action. Now, I am not saying that there are not many good organizations that do-good things for veterans, just that there are way to many that raise money to support veterans and have very little actual impact. The suicide, drug usage, and homelessness rates among veterans is continuing to rise. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Vets, “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.” And, “About 1.4 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.” Many veterans limited disability checks disqualify them for housing and food assistance yet it’s not near enough money to survive on.
So what can we do? We can open our eyes, be sincere. Show veterans we care by actions and not words. Stop utilizing programs that contribute more benefits to the coffers of the non-profits, the governments and the justice systems and find programs that truly address the issues that veterans are plagued with. Create places that veterans can gather, feel safe, and treat the issues, not the symptoms and/or results. As a Disabled Veteran I know firsthand what it feels like and work every day to make the life of my fellow veterans just a little better than before I met them. Remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect all we cherish this Memorial Day but take a moment to ask yourself, “Am I doing all I can do to payback those that served me without question? Are we really doing all we can to help those veterans in need and can we stop them from falling between the cracks and getting lost in the system?”
Have a great Memorial Day and stay safe. God Bless America.
Op-ed piece by Jake Pannell