What are you doing on Veterans Day? Taking the day off? Sleeping in? Catching a parade? Going shopping?
How about taking five minutes to make a difference in the lives of veterans wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan while making it less likely that US soldiers of the future will be sent into similar military quagmires?
Check out a very short film (less than 5 minutes) that has been released this Veterans Day that describes an idea whose time has come - the Veterans' Trust Fund - and how you can make it a reality. Then declare your support by signing up at www.standwithvets.org.
What's a Veterans' Trust Fund? It will require Congress to take responsibility for the true costs of warfare whenever they vote to go to war or extend a war. That will mean appropriating funds upfront so that those injured or wounded in the course of their military service will be guaranteed proper care and support when they come home.
Why do we need a Veterans' Trust Fund? Because when Congress votes for wars, like funding the invasion of Iraq or the escalation in Afghanistan, it doesn't debate the true cost of those wars or take responsibility for the cost of meeting the future needs of those who are sent to do the fighting. Caring for those injured in battle is pushed off until later. When later comes, wounded veterans find themselves competing in the political give and take of Washington DC. The result has been tragedy, neglect and a system overwhelmed with needs it is ill equipped to meet. Consider this:
• Last year, there were more than 1,800 suicide attempts by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA is more than 1,000 short of the counselors, therapists and specialists needed to meet the mental health needs of veterans.
• 565,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have filed disability claims for conditions directly related to their combat. The backlog for processing claims at the Veterans Administration exceeds 700,000, and despite robust efforts at the VA, that number continues to grow.
"Why are we discussing a Veterans' Trust Fund nine years into these wars? We might very well have decided if we'd done the strategy right that the ends, ways and means are not in balance and therefore this was not a good idea. That, at the end of the day, is the bottom line."
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