This years topic, "Why Veterans Are Important to Our Nation's History and Future," proved to be less of a challenge for the students than last year's. The students dug into the issue with expected ideas. They explored some of our earliest veterans from the Revolution and talked about the history of wars and the young men and women that fought in them. One thing that is interesting was that this year's topic only focuses on the past and the future: It seems to ignore the present.
Student's were shocked and a few were very frustrated by the treatment that many veterans receive today. They explored the problem of homelessness among the veterans. They discovered statistics like
Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimatesthat 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night.They also examined the health of our veterans and found that it is believed that 22 veterans commit suicide each day. They looked into the rates of PTSD and found out
: About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.One of the more common conclusions that student drew was simply that we should be very proud of those that served our country. The work and sacrifice of those veterans of the past are an vital component of what makes this nation wonderful. They also concluded that if we don't start taking care of the veterans of the present, there may be no veterans of the future.
Today, politicians will go around making speeches about how much the veteran means to them, how they are the veterans friend, and how they will always be there to honor the veterans sacrifice. Don't believe their words. Make them show it not through press releases, but action that says: I respect you and your sacrifice and instead of benefiting the corporation or Wall Street or special interest/lobby group, I will fully fund veteran's health, education, and other benefits first.
Thank you to our veterans of the past, future and present.