America’s Veterans Deserve Honor, Homes, Healthcare
Military service is the pre-eminent hallmark of honor, duty, and country and deserves America’s dignity, appreciation, and esteem.
Hopefully, the national holidays of Veterans Day and Memorial Day will be complemented by America’s renewed passion for honoring our veterans, especially those marginalized by poverty, homelessness, and health care deficiencies.
Veterans Scandals: The Unacceptable Norm
“Veterans Medical Scandal: Reigniting American Altruism,” I argued, “As one walks the streets of our cities, America flags are proudly displayed everywhere. Our flag is more than a fabric-it is our sacred symbol of respect for America. It reminds us of the unity, devotion, and sacrifices made to preserve our freedom.”
But a travesty has infected our great land, for as we now walk American cities, the dignity of our flag is contradicted by the tragedy of dishonored homeless veterans, many with mental health needs. These patriots are further victimized by society’s indignation, contempt, and abandonment.
Betraying Our Veterans: The Scandals Continue
Aside from appalling well-publicized veteran’s medical scandal that blistered America’s conscience by painting a picture on treatment delays, records falsification and egregious incompetence-the scandals continue.
Recently, I was appalled by a published report detailing contemptuous, unjust, and self-serving misconduct dismissals of soldiers with mental health and suicidal issues.
In the report, Staff Sgt. Eric James, a United States Army sniper who served in two tours in Iraq, recorded proof that soldiers with mental health disorders, suicidal tendencies, and traumatic brain injuries, were being kicked out of the service. The reason for their terminations was misconduct, rather than for medical health issues, and this reprehensible branding was preventing them from receiving the treatment they deserved.
James made over 20 hours of secret recordings with therapists and officers at Fort Carson to expose this scandal.
As I listened to some of these recordings, the disturbing reprimanding of James-and even apparent ignoring his talking about wanting to commit suicide-was heart-wrenching.
We must react with profound urgency to the staggering rise in military suicides. According to a Department of Veterans report, an average of 22 veterans commits suicide every day – 8,000 per year.
This is an America scandal of the most tragic consequence, with terminated soldiers not eligible for retirement and health care benefits that are afforded to those honorably discharged.
Fort Carson must live up to its mission statement. Accoring to its website it “provides first class support to soldiers and families and enables unified actions with community, state, and interagency partners for the greater good of our soldiers.”
The United States Army must also respond with a heart of compassion to its suffering sons and daughters.
Altruism: Mission Critical to America’s Heart
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHF), the factors influencing veteran’s homelessness include shortage of affordable housing, a substandard income, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and lack of family and societal support.
The NCHF website highlights that although a flawless count is impossible, there is an estimated 49,933 homeless veterans throughout America on any given night.
The Coalition for the Homeless presents a snapshot of 59,305 homeless in municipal shelters in New York City alone (September 2015), some of which are veterans, still proudly wearing uniform pieces or holding signs pleading for help that detail their military service.
America must respond to an inner moral call and rise by igniting an ethical renaissance.
The principles of character, compassion, and altruism must be the heartbeat of America.
When America’s heartbeat pulsates with putting the golden rule into action: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the reawakening of the nation will begin its resuscitation.
America, let us honor verses from America the Beautiful, “O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life.”
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As authored for Vincent’s weekly column titled “Reawakening the Nation” for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.
1. Veteran Jose Gonzalez pauses at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in New York City during the Memorial Day Observation on Monday, May 26, 2014. Gonzalez served in Vietnam 1968–1972. (Vincent J. Bove)
2. Jack on Fifth Avenue and 47th Street in the Diamond District on April 27, 2013. (Vincent J. Bove)
3. Homeless man sleeping while posting veteran sign, 31st Street between 6th and 7th avenue, Nov. 21, 2015. (Vincent J. Bove)