Veteran support In The United States


Emma Seckinger, Staff Writer

Memorial Day: what has become an excuse for a weekend getaway or stores to have a twenty five percent off sale originally stemmed from a day dedicated to the remembrance of fallen soldiers who gave their lives while serving the United States. Originally called Decoration Day, this holiday, along with Veterans Day, conveys the honor this country has for people in the military.

In 2014, there were 19.3 million veterans in the United States with 9.4 million over the age of 65 and 3.8 million with a service-connected disability; however, 63,000 suffer from chronic homelessness, composing of twenty percent of the homeless population. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, homelessness among veterans has significantly decreased. Senior Adam Irizarry plans on joining the Marines.

“There’s an insane gap between [how] vets are treated. We have some vets who are told ‘Don’t worry sir, the food’s on the house tonight. Thank you for your service,’ while others are starving on the streets, holding up signs with their prosthetics,” Irizarry said.

The transition back into a civilian lifestyle after serving leaves many unable to cope with daily life. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, nightmares, and physical disabilities leave many veterans struggling to return to their pre-military lifestyle. Unable to keep a job or lacking the education to find one, these former soldiers find themselves without a home or money.

One of the most famous veteran support programs is the Wounded Warrior Project, which currently supports over 100,000 wounded service members and their family members. WWP offers their services to those who suffer from physical or mental injury or illness from serving on or after Sep. 11, 2001.

“It is very, very important to repay those who have served us and given their lives. A lot of them make sacrifices to protect the United States of America,” senior Keaton Zargham said. “Without veterans, our nation would not be as strong.”

Additionally, the United States Veterans Initiative, a private nonprofit corporation, provides support to veterans who have served in World War II and beyond. This organization offers housing, counseling and employment opportunities. U.S. Vets has assisted over 17,000 veterans, providing housing for over 4,511 veterans and jobs for 1,024. Despite all the veterans benefited by this program, the company has offices in only 14 cities. This can cause problems for those who need help but are too far to receive the outreach U.S. Vets offers.

Instead of looking down on those who formerly served this country but cannot rebuild their lives, one should get involved in a veteran support program and remember the sacrifices they have made. Next time you see a veteran, think about paying for their meal, or even saying a simple ‘thank you’.

“Whenever I see someone in their uniform, I feel thankful that they are willing to die for my safety and respect them always,” sophomore Claudia Fitts said. “People should light a candle or say a prayer to remember those who have died.”