The Transylvania Times -

Veterans Deserve More

 

November 9, 2017



This Saturday is Veterans Day, a time to remember and thank veterans for their service. Locally, the official ceremony to honor veterans will be held in front of the Transylvania County courthouse this Friday morning. Other events to honor veterans also will be held throughout the weekend.

It is right and proper for us to honor these men and women by attending these events, and if we see them on the street to thank them for their service and sacrifice.

But our military personnel deserve more. They deserve to have a Congress that pays attention to where are troops are stationed and have a clear understanding of how those missions are protecting the United States. Unfortunately, Congress has fallen down in that respect in the past several years. The latest example is the death of four U.S. Special Forces soldiers in Niger. Some U.S. senators, such as Democrats Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said they were unaware U.S. troops were operating in Niger. Some senators may be excused for such an oversight if they are not on committees privy to such military information. But it is inexcusable for someone like Graham, who is a member of the Armed Services Committee and attended a meeting in March in which General Thomas D. Waldhauser specially discussed the U.S. military presence in Niger.

Apparently a large number of Congressmen failed to pay attention to military briefings because Republican Rep. Richard Dent of Pennsylvania said having U.S. troops in Niger is “not new, and lawmakers that seem to be aghast at these missions going on are simply not well-read.”

When military personnel have finished their service, they deserve to receive the mental and physical care they need. Most Americans are aware of the shoddy treatment military personnel received at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the hundreds of thousands of veterans who died while awaiting proper medical care from VA hospitals. As for mental health, the RAND Center estimates that about 20 percent of the veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. And a report released in August of this year stated “the rate of suicidal deaths is considerably high in the veteran populations.” It is a shameful irony that those who avoid death during combat die at home because they cannot get proper mental health care.

Veterans deserve to live in decent housing. The number of homeless veterans has been trending downward since 2010. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the percentage of homeless veterans from 2010 to 2016 has declined by 47 percent. However, there were still more than 13,000 homeless veterans in January of 2016 and veterans are over-represented as a percentage of the entire homeless population.

If members of Congress and government leaders cannot properly oversee where our military personnel are fighting; if they cannot provide the proper funding for veterans to receive the high-quality physical and mental health care they need when they return; if they cannot provide veterans avenues to keep veterans from being homeless and help them assimilate back into society, then we need to find someone who will. Our veterans desire that, as well our thanks.

 
 

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