Veterans. Great men and women who have served our country and made a happier life for us all. One would think that these would be some of the most respected individuals on the face of the Earth, especially the United States. Oftentimes they are, as most schools let their students stay home to celebrate Veteran’s Day with their family, and other various parades and celebrations for our esteemed soldiers are popular and held frequently. Even on social media, sometimes people can’t scroll through for one day without seeing a post honoring Vets. But, even after everything they’ve done for us, are we really doing anything to thoroughly appreciate them?
According to endhomelessness.org, in January 2019, 37,085 veterans were homeless, with 14,345 of them being unsheltered. That number alone is disheartening. The worst part of it all: That data was collected over only one night. Veterans make up nine percent of all homeless adults. On any given night, over 553,000 Americans are homeless. That’s more than 49,770 veterans. But hey, we love to support our vets in ‘any way that we can’, don’t we?
Another issue often rooted in veterans is their mental health. To be away from family and friends for months on end, sometimes living a nightmare during that time, is without a doubt damaging. Unfortunately, a former soldier’s state of mind is too-often not paid attention to until its too late. According to the Veteran’s National Council, thirty percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment. According to the 2019 Nation Veteran Suicide Prevention Report, there was an average of 16.8 veteran suicides per day in 2017. For those statistics, any number above zero is too high.
Parades and celebrations can be nice distractions and a cute way to honor things for a while, but there are much bigger issues at hand. For a nation that has been given so much by these men and women, we really should be giving back. I’m not saying that we have to shower them in gold and thousand-dollar bills, but we should at least not allow them to live in the filth of the streets or their minds.
I’ve been blessed with veteran family members that, for the most part, haven’t been too seriously affected by their service. Still, however upsetting this fact may be, the same cannot be said for so many of them. Never forget the sacrifices they made to give you the life of near-luxury you lead now.