As the nation honored veterans this Memorial Day, one fact remained unmentioned: The number of veterans living in poverty is steadily increasing and veterans’ care in general has been in steady decline.
According to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, about one-third of the adult homeless population have served in the armed services.
With so many “honored” veterans living in the streets, the government should focus less on waving flags and using veterans in their campaign speeches, but instead give veterans the care they deserve.
Yet the Bush administration has cut veterans’ benefits every year since it took power. This included budget cuts to a Northwest Washington VA home. According to the Washington Post, the situation in the home became so bad that the 1,000-plus veterans filed a class-action suit against the Defense Department when their facility could no longer get prescriptions and regular doctor checkups.
In other instances, VA hospitals were closed entirely, and more closures are planned. One such closure that has generated heated debate will see either the Brooklyn or Manhattan VA Hospital in New York City closed. The area’s VA hospitals have been notoriously overburdened for years and closing such an important hospital would again leave veterans without the services they need and deserve.
The wave of veterans soon to return from Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations of the “war on terror” will only make matters worse.
Leaving the debate about the legality and necessity of the Bush administration’s military actions aside, it is simply unfair to first send men and women into harm’s way and then to cut their benefits — especially since a “social draft” is often occurring because poor Americans often see the military as a way to increase their education and living standard.