North Texas Daily

We can’t ask veterans to defend us and then abandon them

We can’t ask veterans to defend us and then abandon them

March 03
01:00 2016

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer

@presto_mitch

From birth, American citizens tout their native country as “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

We’re taught to have high regard for the citizens who lay down their lives for our nation, and revel in the battlefield heroes of old. It’s expected we teach our children to maintain the same reverence for those who answer Uncle Sam’s call and pick up the sword.

If this is really the case, why have so many veterans been homeless for the past 50 years?

In contrast to “the Greatest Generation,” those who survived the Great Depression and fought valiantly in World War II, vets of the Vietnam War received backlash upon their return from Southeast Asia, were ejected from their social circles and received a collective cold-shoulder from society.

WWII survivors had ample time to decompress from the horrors they witnessed, only to come home to an abundance of accolades and loved ones. The G.I. Bill was instituted so they would be able to better themselves with higher education, should they so desire. It still exists today.

Vietnam War vets, on the other hand, returned to the U.S. in the midst of social upheaval. They were subjected to a counterculture built against prior generational ideals, mainly rejecting the gung-ho “go-to-war” attitudes of their parents. Subsequently, the dejection of soldiers began a trend of veterans becoming homeless without sufficient medical or psychological care.

Enter the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, which was formed in 1990 by service providers troubled in the face of these large percentages. In fact, 11 percent of the dispossessed adult population is made up of veterans, according to NCHV.org.

Although the current quota seems small, the NCHV has continued to tackle this issue for 25 years. Moreover, 50 percent of that demographic, according to NCHV.org, suffers from mental illness and even more (70 percent) have histories of substance abuse.

Fortunately, the NCHV serves as the voice of this populous to Congress and the executive branch. They’ve helped design 14 bills for the service of homeless veterans, but it ultimately falls on us to act as we’ve been taught.

Especially in today’s age, where the next president could worsen foreign policy, please show our veterans the respect they so rightly deserve. We can’t send young men and women off to war if they are to be abandoned when they return.

Featured Image: Samuel Wiggins | Senior Staff Illustrator

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