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Number of homeless vets a disgrace

Originally published September24, 2010

A few weeks ago some friends and I went to see a movie called “Restrepo.”

“Restrepo” is a feature-length documentary that follows a platoon of U.S. soldiers during its 15-month deployment in Afghanistan in the Korengal Valley – nicknamed the deadliest place on Earth.

The movie was named after a platoon medic named Juan Restrepo who was killed very early in the deployment.

“Restrepo” is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.

After watching the movie, I came away with an even deeper appreciation for what soldiers past and present have went through to protect our freedoms.

“Support the troops” has become a cliche phrase talked about by many but not really followed through on.

As a country we send care packages and write letters to soldiers deployed overseas. That’s great, but it isn’t enough.

The government needs to do more for the troops when they return home.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Only 8 percent of the population can claim veteran status but nearly 1/5 of the country’s homeless are veterans.

Those numbers are eye popping, and the politicians in this country need to take notice and do a better job of assisting these veterans.

We are talking about people who risked their lives in war so we could continue to live ours in freedom.

Many soldiers return home from combat and suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder or substance abuse. Currently, not enough is being done to assist these soldiers.

It is estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of troops returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, but many of this country’s veteran hospitals don’t have special PTSD programs.

Every year, politicians waste billions of dollars on ridiculous government programs when that money could be used for veterans who really need and deserve it.

As a country, it is unacceptable to allow our veterans to go without a place to live or health care.

Politicians must do more to help fund programs to help these men and women out.

Veterans did a service for this country by serving in the military. The majority of these veterans volunteered because they felt the cause was right. It’s only fair that the United States repays them by doing its best to keep them off the streets and get them proper medical care.

So when you lay your head down to sleep tonight, remember the men and women who made it possible.

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