Memorial Day is just around the corner, a time when we remember and pay tribute to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. It is a time to reflect on their courage and commitment, and to ensure that we never forget their sacrifice.
As we take a moment to remember those who have fallen, it is also important to recognize the debt we owe to those who have served and returned home. For many, the end of their service marks the beginning of new struggles, including physical injuries, PTSD, and a lack of support from the country they defended. In this blog post, I want us to reflect on the question of whether we, as a nation, have paid that debt.
In my opinion, we have failed to repay our debt to those who have served. For too long, we have sent our service members into harm’s way under false pretenses, without a clear plan or understanding of the consequences of our actions. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are prime examples of this failure. Our service members were sent to these countries with little understanding of the cultures, histories, and complexities of these regions, and with no clear exit strategy. The result has been years of conflict, thousands of lives lost and irreparable damage to our reputation on the global stage.
We have also failed our service members when they have returned home. Many struggle with significant physical and mental injuries, including PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and other ailments. Yet we continue to underfund resources that could assist these veterans, including physical therapy, psychological counseling, and job training programs. In addition, too many of our veterans face a lack of access to healthcare, homelessness, and unemployment upon returning home. It is unacceptable that the very people who risked their lives for our country should struggle to maintain a basic standard of living.
It is not simply a matter of resources-much of the challenge in providing for veterans stems from a lack of political will and advocacy. Too frequently, political leaders are more focused on rhetoric than on actual solutions to the problems facing veterans and their families. Whether it is addressing the opioid epidemic that is affecting many veterans or reducing the backlog of compensation claims, we must demonstrate a commitment to those who have served.
As we approach Memorial Day, it is important to reflect on the debt we owe to those who have served our country. We must redouble our commitment to providing for them, both when they are on the battlefield and when they return home. This means ensuring that resources are available to assist them with their medical and life needs, but also supporting initiatives that will keep them from being placed in harm’s way in the first place.
Our nation’s veterans have given so much to us and sacrificed so much for our freedom. It is time to take a hard look at how we are repaying that debt and find new ways to demonstrate our gratitude and honor their service. Together, we can work towards a future where no veteran feels forgotten, unappreciated or unsupported. Let us begin this work today.