Veterans deserve more

The fact that you are reading The Dickinson Press this morning is really something that should never be taken for granted.
We know at The Press that we are blessed to live in a country where we can produce a newspaper that is free of government control of what we print.
A democracy depends on a free press. Thomas Jefferson summed it up when he said “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”
Free speech, while guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, was earned on the battlefield by the Constitutional Army and defended ever since by our armed forces.
Like free speech, Americans have so many blessings that we would not have if not for the service of our veterans.
Today, Nov. 11, is set aside to recognize the service and sacrifice of those who have served in our military.
Today at 11 a.m. Dickinson State University’s May Hall will be the site of the annual Veterans Day Service, a great opportunity for all of us to pay tribute to the folks who we owe such a deep debt of gratitude.
Our veterans deserve far more than simply the holiday that bares their name. We should make sure that as a country, we celebrate their service every day by insuring we deliver the care and benefits our country promised them.
Sadly, that isn’t the case. The Veteran’s Administration estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and over the course of a year, about twice that many experience homelessness. Only 8 percent of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly one-fifth of the homeless population are veterans.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America.
Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone. Why are veterans homeless? Beyond the complex set of factors influencing all homelessness, a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
Our greatest responsibility as Americans is to provide our veterans with a system that cares for their wounds and ensures that they have an opportunity to succeed. Based on the number of homeless vets alone we obviously need to do a better job.