Red, White and Bruised

Posted: May 25, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Compassion, Government, Homelessness, Housing, Morality, Politics, Veterans

On Saturday morning, in his weekly radio address, President Obama urged all Americans to remember and honor our nation’s Veterans.

Although Memorial Day is primarily a day for remembrance of our nation’s servicemen and women who have died in the course of their service – we mustn’t forget those who have served and are still with us.  

As part of his address, President Obama stated:

"Our fighting men and women – and the military families who love them – embody what is best in America. And we have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us.

And yet, all too often in recent years and decades, we, as a nation, have failed to live up to that responsibility. We have failed to give them the support they need or pay them the respect they deserve. That is a betrayal of the sacred trust that America has with all who wear – and all who have worn – the proud uniform of our country.

These are some of the ways we can, must, and will honor the service of our troops and the sacrifice of their families. But we must also do our part, not only as a nation, but as individuals for those Americans who are bearing the burden of wars being fought on our behalf. That can mean sending a letter or a care package to our troops overseas. It can mean volunteering at a clinic where a wounded warrior is being treated or bringing supplies to a homeless veterans center. Or it can mean something as simple as saying "thank you" to a veteran you pass on the street."

I was pleased to see that the President made reference to homeless Veterans.

Too often we see a person who is homeless and do not take a moment to consider if they may be one of our nation’s "wounded warriors."

Veterans who will experience homeless this year will number in the hundreds of thousands – up to 400,000 by some estimates. Many of them suffer from addiction disorders; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); traumatic brain injury (TBI); and/or physical disabilities.

This, however, should not – and does not – lessen the debt of honor and gratitude we owe them. Nor should we view them – due to their homelessness – as less deserving of our respect than any of their housed military brethren.

Because we are currently engaged in military campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, it is easy to forget that there are Veterans living on our nation’s streets from previous wars. They too deserve our respect.

Our nation’s safety and freedom came at a price. It was bought and paid for by all who have proudly worn this country’s uniform. Unfortunately, some of them have fallen through the various political and bureaucratic cracks and now pay another price: homelessness.

Despite their rhetoric, our nation’s political leaders have systematically failed to adequately fund and address this issue while constantly seeking funding for their pet projects.

It is indefensible that we have continued to leave our Veterans out in the cold: Red, White and Bruised.

It is time that we begin repaying our debt to them.

It’s time we demand of our elected leaders that they implement comprehensive programs aimed at getting our nation’s "wounded warriors" off the streets and into housing of their own – regardless of the cost.

We owe it to ourselves as a nation. But most importantly – we owe it to those who have served this nation by wearing its uniform.

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