From bullet shells, to bomb blasts, and potentially amputated limbs, U.S. soldiers face on the scariest and life threatening situations no man or woman could ever imagine. America’s military is one of the strongest forces in the world and consists of the toughest and strongest men and women in the US. These soldiers have risked their lives, lost limbs, their friends, their family, and their lives. The bravery and honor that any soldier musters up to go into battle can result in the ultimate sacrifice, all to keep this amazing country free and safe. Even with all of their sacrifices to this country, veterans are neglected and become homeless, hungry, and scared. 2018 is the first time in seven years that the homeless veteran rate has increased, and has done so with nearly 2,500 new homeless veterans just on the west coast. A main contributor to these homeless veterans is the Department of Veterans Affairs (The V.A.), the people that are supposed to help and guide these heroes back into a regular way of life. A proposed solution to this problem is to crack down on the V.A.’s neglect of veterans looking for the help and aid, and to partake in public fundraisers and projects. Fundraisers on payment sites such as Patreon and GoFundMe have been blessings to the veterans who have had funds started up for them, and it is an obligation as U.S. citizens to give back and help those who gave up nearly everything to keep the sanctity of security for this country.
One of the main contributors to homelessness among veterans is mental illness, most commonly, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD affects many military veterans from a wide variety of different deployments and wars, though the rates differ depending on which war they served in, PTSD affected 30% of Vietnam veterans, 11% of Afghanistan veterans, 20% of Iraq veterans, and 10% of veterans who served in the Gulf War (Brainline). Half of veterans with PTSD do not receive the treatment they require and 20% – 50% of those who do receive treatment end up not completing the course to get better. The lack of treatment is paramount to these veterans’ health, considering that 45% of homeless veterans have some kind of mental illness (Very Well Mind). The homecoming of a veteran has been related to that veteran’s degree of PTSD. Veterans with a more active PTSD reception upon their arrival tend to have harsher, more negative degree of PTSD. It is no wonder then that, those who had the hardest time re-entering society, Vietnam veterans, among whom 30% have had PTSD, make up 47% of homeless veterans (Coalition for Homeless Veterans). These veterans had the hardest time out of any, they had earned the title of “”Baby Killers”” and were scorned for their actions. This critical hatred and negativity against these soldiers who just came back from a blood bath caused them to not speak up to deal with their PTSD. The sacrifice of these men and women have been underappreciated by many, but those who criticize have never survived the means of war. These soldier’s sufferings have gone on to be suppressed and seen as something that they don’t have a right to fix because they are labeled as “”murderers””; therefore, not going and seeking the healthcare and medication they need.
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Another cause of Veterans ending up Homeless is resorting to substance abuse. The reason for this behavior is that they cannot acquire help from the VA. coalition in place, they still don’t initially help these veterans when the problems arise at the start. Without the initial care, veterans feel as if they are thrown to the wolves of society and expected to live on their own. Individuals who have been deployed several times, have been exposed repeatedly to war and other injuries, such as amputations, are at a higher risk of developing substance abuse issues. The risk of heavy drinking, binge drinking, smoking, or a setback to smoking are prominent in these veterans. However, perhaps the greatest common concern is prescription drug abuse and Over The Counter drug abuse. Veterans, like civilians, are at risk for addiction to opioid pain medicines that were prescribed due to combat-related injuries.
There are handfuls of solutions done around the country, but solutions that have been beneficial have been ones of selflessness and persistence. Giving these homeless heroes a couple bucks when you pass them on the street helps just a little, but others have gone above and beyond and started public donation funds on different payment sites such as PayPal, GoFundMe, and Patreon. But others who have served in the military know very well how much the VA does to neglect and suck money out of these helpless veterans. There have been projects and efforts to try to crackdown on the VA and their negligence towards homeless veterans, and with many successful outcomes, there seems to be a wave of people who want to take part in exposing this corruption. Proposing public fundraisers for the helpless veterans is a gift of enormous magnitude to them and is cost-effective, simplistic, almost free. Continuing to expand on the matter of the VA’s harsh treatment will serve well to the veteran community, possibly even taken into Government if the severity and success increases. Along with the expansion of exposing Veterans Affairs, the popularization of public fundraisers for homeless heroes will give the sense of hope back to many veterans in accordance to bring unity back into American societies.
In conclusion, continuing to have efforts towards helping the helpless, especially those who have sacrificed more than needed, will benefit the heart and mind of America and its people. Helping out our veterans by connecting with their struggle will educate us on a problem that has been stagnantly increasing over the years. Exposing corruption, helping our country’s heroes, and turning someone’s life around are all such positive effects that also have positive effects on society and, most importantly, our veterans. Doing our best to benefit and give back to those who have given everything for our safety and freedom is a civic duty to all of us U.S. citizens.