Veteran's Day Thoughts

And here are a few of my veterans day thoughts:

It is unfortunate, that all this Patraeus breaking news tragically falls on veterans day.  As the media swarm buzzes and feeds on the insatiable blend of tabloid sex scandal and high ranking government official resigning on the eve of a newly re-elected president, and the search for the "other woman" fighting over the general's affection, these above the fold page 1 stories all undeservingly overshadow the honor and attention our veterans so rightly deserve.

As we pass the 2,000 mark of american lives lost in an 11 year war, our nation, our society, our mainstream media yet again, abandon and overlook those who wear the uniform and those who have so bravely fought for our country and sacrificed their lives in order to ensure that the rest of our nation's citizens are safe and that the pillars of democracy and freedom that define our great nation are upheld and remain firmly in tact.  As we mark this day, let us not forget 

-The 22 million veterans currently living in the United States
-The more than 2.3 million United States troops who have been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq since October 2001
-The 2,130 United States Service Members who lost their lives in Afghanistan.
-The 4,474 United States Service Members who lost their lives in Iraq.
-The 17,887 US Troops wounded in Afghanistan.
-The 31,930 US Troops wounded in Iraq.

Those in active military duty make up less than 1% of the American population, YET….

-There are 689,000 veterans who are unemployed.
-The unemployment rate for veterans who have served since the September 11th terrorist attacks is 10%.  (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oct, 2012)
-The unemployment rate for veterans aged 18-24 is 14.5%.  (Department of Veterans Affairs, Oct, 2012)
-The poverty rate for veterans aged 18-34 reached 12.5% in 2010, more than double the rate of 10 years earlier.
-More than 75% of veterans report "an inability to effectively translate their military skills to civilian terms."
-College-educated service members who recently returned to civilian life earn almost $10,000 less per year on average than other college-educated adults.
-There were 67,495 veterans who were homeless on any given night in 2011, 14% of the homeless in the US are veterans.  (Down from 75,609 in 2009)
-The 2012 suicide rate of active duty military personal is greater than the number of troops dying in battle.
-An American soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan dies every 36 hours, a veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes.
- The Janurary-September total of veteran suicides is 16% higher than the previous 2009 record and on pace to set a new annual high, with 38 Army suicides in July 2012 alone.
-22% of all suicides in the US are former service members.

With the war in Afganistan scheduled to end in 13 months, and with the Budget Control Act of 2011 reducing budgetary resources for defense and non defense domestic discretionary programs by $492 billion each over the 2013-2021 period, it appears we have a major dilemma ahead of us.  With the wind down of troops returning home coinciding with the reduction of resources to care for those returning heroes, it appears inevitable that an unconscionable number will lack the access to proper and immediate care that they so rightly deserve.  No one who risks their life to defend our country abroad should ever be denied the very same defense at home.