Reflections After Veterans Day

Another Veteran’s Day has passed, the parades are over and the sales are done. Attention is already moving on to the terrorist attacks in Paris or returning to the debate over free speech on our college and university campuses. But, even with all of the patriotic talk about helping our veterans, we still have over 50,000 of them living on the streets, the VA hospitals are still corrupt and lawmakers in Washington are out of ideas on how to turn patriotic rhetoric into concrete actions.

It’s sad, really.

Although the slice of this country’s population that are veterans is at an all-time low – and shrinking – the problems they face continue to grow. Understanding the cause of problems, such as PTSD, doesn’t make them go away, nor does it make them easier to treat.

Not all veterans are at risk, of course. The vast majority of us have reintegrated into society and lead happy, stable lives, but the ones who have not, or cannot, deserve our attention on more than just one day each year. The ongoing problems of homelessness, poverty and emotional problems within the veteran’s community need to be kept in focus both in Washington and on a local level every day of the year.

Veteran’s Day celebrates the sacrifices made by our veterans while fighting in America’s wars. Originally meant to honor First World War veterans, the holiday has been – rightfully – expanded to include military members who have fought in the many wars since 1918. Those veterans have all passed away, now. The Second World War veterans are the elder members of our elite group and, soon enough, it will be the turn of the veterans of Korea and Vietnam.

Homeless VetAs each generation passes, the problems remain.

The largest difference between veterans and civilians is that, at one point, every veteran swore an oath to defend their nation. Even at the risk of their own lives. Many civilians struggle with that concept. It is difficult to qualify the difference between being in the military and having a civilian job to someone who has never viscerally understood that they could be called to kill or die for their country.

There are risks in all layers of society, but volunteering to seek out those risks – no matter how far removed they are from your homes – is the military’s burden. A policeman doesn’t travel to Baghdad to protect his community, a firefighter doesn’t spend six months at sea to ensure that his neighborhood doesn’t burn down.

That difference means everything.

Whether they understood it at the time or not, each veteran swears an oath to protect his country that could, and often does, result in harm to them. Not just physical harm, but mental anguish and emotional problems that an individual can’t cope with on their own.

There is no valid reason that a veteran should live on the street. There is no valid reason that a veteran cannot receive medical treatment at any time and in any place. If this country can find the money and means to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees, it can find the will to take care of its veterans.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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