Letter to the editor | Take care of our veterans

November 12, 2013 

Twenty-two: the number of U.S. veterans who commit suicide a day.

Having marked another Veterans Day, it is time to pay the debt to those who were willing to pay what President Abraham Lincoln called the “Last full measure of devotion.”

America is failing its veterans.

On any given night, upwards of 63,000 veterans find themselves without adequate housing. As of 2012, veterans face a significantly greater chance of being unemployed, with a 9.9 percent rate.

Couple the fog of war manifested in PTSD with homelessness and unemployment and many vets see no other way out.

Thanking a veteran for their service is a beginning, not an end.

My dad, a Korean War vet, used to say, “Talk is cheap, it takes money to buy whiskey.” Our tab is past due. It is time to pay the human costs of our involvement. Our leaders must expand Veterans Affairs programs to ensure that all veterans have access to the best care, food and housing — not simply what we can afford.

I caution all: The next time you see a homeless person or someone paying with a SNAP card (another program recently decimated by budget cuts), judge them not unless you have walked a mile in their shoes or, now, more likely their boots.

To paraphrase Lincoln: It is for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us … we take increased devotion that we here highly resolve that our veterans have not sacrificed in vain.

Peace.

Andy Merritt, Halfmoon Township

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