Previously I have written about the plight of homeless veterans. I have referred to this as our Nation’s shame and I have stated that the word homeless should never be used as an adjective to describe a veteran. I still feel this way but I believe that the idea of veterans contemplating or committing suicide has grown to epidemic proportions and needs to be addressed immediately, and with all available resources, for this truly is our nation’s greatest shame. .
I have read varying statistics that war veterans are committing suicide at the rate between 20 and 24 per day! That is astonishing that it is happening and it is even more astonishing that it is allowed to be happening. At the rate of 22 per day, we will lose more veterans to suicide in 8 years then we lost during the entire Viet Nam conflict. This is not only astonishing, but it is completely unacceptable.
This begs to question, who is responsible. Surely not the veteran who in an all-volunteer service put it all on the line for his nation. The veteran showed up, stepped up, and did all they could do for the rest of us. Now the rest of us need to show up, step up, and do all that can be done for these veterans. After Viet Nam the returning warriors were greeted with boos, name calling and spittle. Today we just seem to cast away our veterans. It must be realized that veterans are not a throw away segment of society that are forgotten and left to die alone in despair and hopelessness.
Is the care we are offering our returning veterans the best we have to offer? Are we doing enough to make sure that the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder many are suffering from is being properly treated? If a veteran calls out for help from his nation, is that call being answer? Not only answered, but is it being answered in time? I think the answer to all those questions is no. We need to do more. Before we send millions of dollars overseas in foreign aid we need to address the critical issue at home. We need to take care of our own, first. And if that means there is not one dollar left to spend on foreign aid, so be it. To those who say the plight of those being persecuted by terrorist is something we need to address as humanitarians, I agree. And we can do that just as soon as we address the plight of our veterans. This too is humanitarian aid, and it is more important.
I certainly do not have all the answers. I only have the questions. Do all veterans who asks for help get it? Does he or she get it immediately and without reservations. Are we still putting veterans on a waiting list to receive treatment? Are veterans still dying while on that waiting list? If the answers are yes, then we haven’t done nearly enough. We need to, we must do better and we must do more.
There is a movement in social media encouraging people to a challenge whereby they are to do 22 push ups a day for 22 days to call attention to the plight of the veteran suicide rate. Although this is commendable, I am not sure what this will really do. I think it might be better to write 22 letters a day, make 22 phone calls a day, send 22 emails a day. Write, call, and email your elected representative and demand they do what must be done for these veterans. Inundate them with piles of mail and phones that do not stop ringing until they do their job and turn this tide of veteran suicides. Until they do, we will have to live with the shame. That is unacceptable.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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