Today is Veterans Day, a good time to consider how veterans are being served by the country they served.
One of the problems that has plagued the veteran community are the mental health effects of their service. Long deployments, injuries, stress, and a lack of an effective support system have lead to an unacceptably high amount of veteran suicides.
The number of veterans committing suicide daily has risen more than 20% than was previously estimated by the Department of Veterans Affairs coming in at roughly 22 suicides a day.
Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Only 7% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly 13% of the homeless adult population are veterans.
Approximately 12,700 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND) were homeless in 2010. The number of young homeless veterans is increasing, but only constitutes 8.8% of the overall homeless veteran population.
Poverty and suicide aren’t particularly lucrative rewards for serving your country. Then of course there is the question of whether the sacrifice and risk was worth it given the value of the mission. That may be a heavy question when dealing with Operation Iraqi Freedom and the later years of the war in Afghanistan. Lots of blood, lots of treasure, and not a lot to show for it.
Regardless of the mission that our veterans were tasked with, it remains our duty to ensure they are well taken care of and compensated for their service. A duty we clearly need to rededicate ourselves to.
Photo by 350z33 under Creative Commons license.