The New Year is here. For most of us, that means we're in full-on resolution mode, seeing the year ahead through rose-colored glasses and a prism of unbridled opportunity. Vows to curb our consumption of carbs, pursue our passions, and spend time with the ones we love abound, as we leave 2012 in our dust. As we have bid adieu to 2012 and greeted 2013, let's take a moment to reflect on the reality of the last 12 months through our veterans' eyes.
Our veterans had another tough year. Their unemployment hovered well above the general population's joblessness rate, with 1 in 10 of our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans out of work as of November. Our warriors continue to be stigmatized by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that now grips nearly one-third of our veterans. The military sex abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base has resulted in more than 40 women coming forward with heartbreaking stories of unwanted sexual advances by their instructors.
But by far the most devastating issue facing our military personnel is suicide. New data shows that more active-duty soldiers committed suicide than died in combat in 2012. It's a tragic testament to our society's shortcomings in treating PTSD.
These issues make each day a hurdle for our veterans, whether the calendar reads 2012 or 2013. But as we jump into the New Year, I propose a different kind of resolution -- one that's not about losing weight, accelerating our climb up the career ladder, or traveling to foreign shores. This year, let's finally give veteran health care the attention it deserves. Stopping veteran suicide, unemployment and sexual abuse all starts with PTSD. By striving to provide holistic, stigma-free care for our warriors, we can take a large step toward helping them heal their invisible wounds.
Let's make their priorities our priority. Let's make 2013 the year of the veterans.
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