The current Iraq war has been called the Vietnam of this generation. Unfortunately, that accusation may be correct. Regardless of whether or not the reasons for war were justified, one of Vietnam’s biggest problems was the abandonment of our veterans.
It is widely known that Vietnam veterans did not get the warm homecoming they deserved. All that was left for most of them were lives of hardship, poverty and regret.
U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq are experiencing the same situation. It seems that nearly every car on the road has a yellow ribbon with the phrase “Support Our Troops,” but does that support really exist?
Earlier this year, the unemployment rate for male veterans between the ages of 20 and 24 was a reported 20.4 percent – almost twice the rate for civilian men of the same age group, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That is ridiculous. What happened to the promises that serving in the armed forces would help prepare you for a good civilian job?
There are Web sites for veterans to find jobs, such as vetjobs.com, but they are not much different from monster.com, which is just a forum to post resumes. The government shouldn’t leave these soldiers to fend for themselves.
Also, the VA admitted in June that it was short $1 billion for this year’s budget. Government spending on the military has consistently increased, but not enough of that money is being appropriated to the returning soldiers. It is time for this practice to be rectified.
More than 15,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom began, the Defense Department said in September.
When compared to previous wars, this seems a small number of injured troops. In other wars, soldiers suffered minor gunshot wounds or broken limbs. When we consider the advances in military technology since World War II, these veterans have a higher percentage of more severe injuries.
The troops of the past would have died from these types of injuries, but since we now have better medical training, our troops thankfully survive. Basically, what used to kill soldiers in the past, they survive from now – but not without needing extended or lifetime medical coverage.
Our troops need more than just a peace rally or car ribbon; they need real help from the government that sent them into battle. The government failed to supply that aid after the Vietnam war, and it’s not doing it now during the Iraq war.
These brave soldiers came home from Iraq to a lack of support from their government and country. What are these troops supposed to do when they cannot attain proper health care because the local VA hospital is understaffed and overburdened?
What are the veterans going to do when jobs do not exist? There is no government support when funding for veterans is taking a backseat to tax cuts for the wealthy.
The United States treats its war veterans poorly and it makes no sense. They should be held in high regard. They fight and die for our country and should be heralded when they return home, not shunned.
Many are against this Iraq war, but that should never have anything to do with supporting our troops.
We owe them the opportunity to have an easy a transition to civilian life without having to deal with a government that doesn’t seem to have their best interests at heart.
Royce Shockley can be reached at email@example.com.