Let’s support veterans with meaningful help

OlympiaMarch 22, 2013 

Back in the early 2000s, the back of my pickup truck (and most of my neighbors’ vehicles) was adorned with a ribbon-shaped magnet declaring my support of our troops. I recently sold that old truck and noticed that my magnet was no longer there.

As our troops begin to come home, I think it is time we reconsidered what shape our support might take.

More than 600,000 military personnel have traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or similar mental conditions. The feds have committed $3.3 billion for treatment and research. Next time a politician cries out that the most important thing we can do as a nation is cut budgets and reduce deficits, remember that these are the type of programs that are at risk and the ramifications for our community is devastating.

The Veterans Administration treats about a third of all Iraq/Afghanistan veterans for mental disorders and veterans’ groups estimate that perhaps another third go untreated. Each year, about 1,000 recently returned veterans die in motorcycle accidents, and more veterans take their own lives (stateside) than military personnel who are killed in action.

Military personnel comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, yet shoulder the vast majority of the burdens of war. We need to move beyond the support our troops symbols and actually support our veterans in a meaningful way.

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