First it was Main Street. Then it was Joe Six-Pack. And the other night, Joe the Plumber took center stage. After three presidential debates between Senators McCain and Obama, our nation's veterans can't help but be left wondering: What about us?
Beyond the fact that there was no real talk (straight or otherwise) at all about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, foreign policy or military affairs, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are facing unbelievable challenges when they come home. More than 300,000 new veterans are suffering from a serious psychological injury, and less than half are receiving the care they need. Tens of thousands of troops have suffered disabling physical injuries, new veterans are also facing high rates of unemployment, and almost two thousand brave men and women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have already wound up homeless. And all the economic issues hitting the average American are hitting our military folks even harder. Millions are wrestling with the mortgage crisis, rising food costs, and the high price of gas. Now imagine dealing with all that while being deployed to a war zone for 12 months for the third time in five years. This is what our servicemembers are facing.
But not once during the presidential debates did we hear any substance from the candidates about how they plan to support our veterans.
We've been bombarded with talking point after talking point on the economy, healthcare, and energy. Joe the Plumber even had his name repeated more than a dozen times. But Jim and Jane the Veteran have been left behind.
We have nineteen days to go until Election Day, and for our country's newest generation of veterans, there is a lot at stake. Our nation's 25 million veterans need to hear about the critical issues that matter to them. How are we are going to fund the VA on time? Who will be the next VA Secretary? How will we address the shortage of mental health professionals? Until our country's leaders begin this dialogue, veterans across the country will be waiting.
Check out our Top 10 Actions that the next President must take, and remind the candidates that in a time of war, it is a top national responsibility to support the troops who have served.