It has cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives, and the anniversary last week of our invasion has kept the war at the forefront of our minds. Our country hails the troops fighting in Iraq, but when they return home, it’s some thanks they get.
Their needs are not being adequately met.
More than 400 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are currently homeless.
Some experts quoted in a New York Times article on Nov. 8, 2007, say the veterans from those wars are turning up on the streets sooner than those who fought in Vietnam did. Of America’s homeless population, 26 percent of them are veterans – men and women who once fought and made sacrifices for our country are living on the streets. Those who took care of us are no longer being cared for.
The large amount of homeless veterans is nothing new, but there is no excuse for their suffering to continue.
The government has a responsibility to provide proper medical care and education to help better ensure the well-being of the veterans and a smoother transition back into a normal life. With all the money going to fighting the war, at least a decent amount of money should be going to the veterans’ care.
Three senators, Jim Webb, D-Va., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. , recently introduced an updated GI Bill that would provide more money for veterans who have served since Sept. 11 to put toward a college education. Although veterans are currently given some money for education, it’s not nearly enough. Perhaps with sufficient money and the opportunity for further education, the veterans would be better equipped to stay off the streets.
With the sad state of our veterans and the lack of benefits they receive, it seems there is little to motivate future generations to serve in the armed forces.
How can the government expect people to serve when their lives after service have the potential to be so dismal?
It seems that the least the government could do is provide acceptable services and benefits to these veterans. It’s a small price to pay for all the soldiers have already given up for the sake of their country.
Jillian Hutchison is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Omaha, Neb.