It upsets me to no end when I read statistics stating there are roughly 50,000 homeless veterans in America, representing roughly 8.6% of the total homeless population. Why are there homeless veterans?! If the motto “leave no man behind” holds true, why has the US government abandoned the very people who served their country the most?
Whether you’ve served in the military for 1 year or 20 years, veterans should be able to count on the government for the bare minimum of food, clothing, and shelter. The government needs to provide maximum support for those wishing to transition to the private sector with job placement and continued training.
There’s no mandatory draft now, so it’s important to realize every single military participant is voluntary. Who is braver than those who enlist to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq? Nobody! We are reminded of their bravery today, but we should be aware every single day of their service to our country.
One of my closest in-laws lives near the poverty line in another state because he cannot find work in his trade (carpenter/electrician). He served in the army for two years and was told before he enlisted that he would always be taken care of. His back hurts, he went through pancreatic cancer in 2015, and he has arthritis at 62 years old.
We try and help him every month where we can, but he’s a proud man who doesn’t want help from us. We try and contact the VA on his behalf to see if they can help him look for work and provide medical coverage. They cannot. He’s just *this* many years too young to start receiving benefits. We cross our fingers every day hoping nothing bad happens to him.
A POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE
Just to get a better perspective, I asked a US Air Force serviceman friend of 7 years how the government treated him when he served. His experience was positive, but highlights areas of improvement.
“Based on my military experience I think the government and military take great care of their troops while they are still in the service, and very good care of military retirees. Of course there are outliers, but the majority of veterans who fall in those 2 categories have a solid support network and many programs and benefits to help them get by.
The group of veterans who seem to fall through the cracks are those who serve less than 20 years, which is the minimum amount required to receive a military pension and retiree benefits. Many veterans are not prepared to leave the military and enter the civilian world and there is not enough done to give them the proper training and information regarding benefits they are eligible to receive once they separate.The problem can be exacerbated for those with little formal education or service related disabilities, post traumatic stress disorder, and other service related problems.”
This goes back to my original statement: Whether you’ve served in the military for 1 year, or 20 years, veterans should be able to receive benefits from the government. Patrick has since started a website especially for military folks called Military Finance Network to help out his fellow veterans.
SOLUTION: GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE + INCREASED AWARENESS
The US government spent roughly $45 billion dollars bailing out Citibank in 2009. Citibank then turns around and raises salaries for all their senior executives by 50% the same year. Come on now. If the government just spent $13.1 billion dollars, they could allocate $100,000 to each homeless veteran for housing, food, medical attention, and education and get them back on their feet. Someone please tell me why the government is unwilling to do this? Maybe they do spend billions? I really need to understand.
My generation of war is the war on terror. My father fought in Vietnam and my grandfather was a captain in the second world war at Pearl Harbor, Oahu. He shared with me a great many stories before he passed away.
I feel like somewhat of a dud because I have no military experience. But, what I do have is a voice, through this site and beyond. Hopefully this post raises awareness there is a serious amount of veterans abandoned who need help. Please spread the word!
Write to the White House HERE to voice your concerns. It only took me 2 minutes.
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Updated for 2019 and beyond.