This Veterans Day, I call on Congress to pay a great deal more than lip service to treating America's service men and women -- those who sacrifice their own safety for the love and protection of our great country -- with the respect they deserve. Over the coming years more than one million military personnel will return from Iraq and Afghanistan. They did not hesitate when asked to answer the call to duty, and it is now our obligation to answer that same call of duty to welcome them, honor their service, and ensure they succeed back here at home. To do anything less is simply un-patriotic and un-American.
To do that, we have some significant trends of neglect to reverse. Today, over 850,000 veterans are unemployed -- a jobless rate dramatically higher than the national average. It is estimated that over 100,000 veterans are homeless, with hundreds of thousands more at risk of homelessness. The Rand Corporation estimates that over 18% of returning veterans will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or severe depression, and the rate of suicide for returning veterans is twice the national average.
As a nation, we can and must do better in honoring the men and women who have sacrificed so much. I call on Congress and the president to begin this Veterans Day by agreeing on four core patriotic policies to support America's veterans:
Americans understand and wish to fulfill our moral obligation to those who have risked life and limb for our country. Yet legislation that would put these values into action languishes in Congress, stalled by petty bickering and gridlock. On this Veterans Day, I call on our representatives in Congress to immediately set aside partisanship and demonstrate to our troops that America will act as honorably toward them as they have toward us.
Follow Ami Bera, MD on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BeraForCongress