Today is Veterans Day, a day to give thanks to America’s veterans for their service and their sacrifice for their country.  I’m happy to do just that, and I know how much veterans appreciate when we extend that thanks to them personally.

Book given to U.S. veterans in 1919 to help th...
Book given to U.S. veterans in 1919 to help them readjust to civilian life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But how proud should we be when it comes to the services that are provided to so many veterans once they return home from performing their duties in service to their country?  How many times do we see or pass someone on a street corner or at the top of a freeway offramp, holding up a cardboard sign because they are jobless or homeless or both, and they say they’re veterans?

I see it way too often myself, and it’s a shame.  I won’t sugarcoat things and say that drug and/or alcohol abuse doesn’t contribute to their problems, but not all jobless or homeless vets have drug and/or alcohol problems either.  And how much has the stress from their service contributed to the drug and/or alcohol problems?

I’ve talked to veterans who’ve returned home, to the safety of their hometowns — friends and relatives — and that stress is noticeable.  I’ll never forget visiting a cousin of mine in our small, quiet, isolated hometown just a couple of weeks after he returned home from Iraq, taking him out to breakfast, and noticing how he was always checking everything around him because he’d grown so used to it on the dangerous streets and roads of Iraq.

I mentioned that to another veteran of Iraq just in the last couple of weeks, and I asked him if he went through similar experiences.  For a while after he came home, he kept a gun close to the bed where he and his wife slept just because having a weapon nearby had become such a part of his life.

Is it any wonder so many veterans have problems?

We need to remember and honor our veterans’ service to their country, but take it a few steps further and fully address the problems they find when they return home.

Those problems are very real, and they’re not going away anytime soon if they’re not addressed.

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