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Honor Veterans through service work

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Honor Veterans through service work

Emma Royal, Staff Columnist

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Yesterday we observed Veterans Day, a holiday for honoring those who have given their lives and careers to the service of our nation. Unfortunately, we live in a country that seems interested in serving our servicemen and women in word only. While it is honorable to advocate for respecting veterans, the best way to express gratitude is to advocate for the disabled and homeless veterans who, despite being lauded as some of the best our country has to offer, struggle everyday with basic necessities and poor quality of life. Respect for one another is best shown through allocating essential human rights.

Homeless veterans often deal with the aftereffects of their service. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, many are living with mental illnesses including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety. Physical disability and addiction can often compound these problems, and without access to healthcare including high quality counseling and treatment for both trauma and addiction, there is little hope for improvement for many of these men and women.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, known to many as the VA, has initiatives in place for decreasing the amount of homeless veterans and they have been somewhat successful; the percentage of the homeless that are veterans has gone down over the past few years, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In April of 2015, New Orleans was the first city to announce that it had effectively ended veteran homelessness. We know there is a solution to this problem. We cannot stop at “getting better.” Our priorities and energy surrounding veterans’ affairs must go towards ensuring that no veteran will ever go without food, housing or medicine. There is no veterans’ cause more worthy than making sure that they have the means to live healthy and productive lives after giving up so much for the sake of the nation. Give your money, your time and your votes to entities that you know will further the cause.

It is easy to argue that what veterans need more than anything is respect, but we often fail to recognize that there is no greater respect than ensuring basic necessities for those we claim to honor. Put your money, time, and energy where your mouth is. Respecting our veterans means that we will make sure they have every resource they could ever need to ease the difficult transition back to civilian life, including affordable housing and healthcare.

It means that we will choose to fund research to make them safer, healthier and able to live normal and comfortable lives when they get home. So yes, thank a veteran today, but thank them as you are serving them in a shelter or a soup kitchen. Veterans deserve to be their own advocates. It is our duty to make sure they have the resources to do so.

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Honor Veterans through service work