We Should Be Ashamed

Writing an editorial normally takes a lot of research and not a little bit of time to formulate a coherent argument. Unfortunately, this isn't one of those painstaking editorials, and that's because this topic is something we have written about on several occasions, about a problem that continues to fester with no resolution in sight.

Mainly, the plight of veterans of the United States' armed forces. All too often, when the men and women we ask to fight our battles return to civilian life, they are left to fight their own personal battles, sometimes alone and sometimes with family members and friends who struggle to deal with the issues that are unique to our warriors.

We're not going to get into the numbers, but here's a snapshot -- thousands of veterans are homeless, thousands who can't get evaluated quickly enough by the Veterans Administration for their immediate medical and mental health needs, thousands can't find jobs because, though their work ethic is never questioned, the skills they received in the military are not the skills they need for civilian jobs. And then, tragically, there are the dozens of veterans and active duty members who commit suicide every week.

Earlier this week, Vermont's own Bernie Sanders introduced a Veterans Affairs bill in the U.S. Senate that would address many of the shortfalls in the care we provide for our wounded warriors. At $30 billion over the next 10 years, it's not cheap, but Sanders, who is the head of the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee, said he is open to paying for the measure with savings from winding down the global war on terror (which the bean counters call "overseas contingency operations").

"Yes, it costs money, but these are sensible provisions and something that our veterans are entitled to," he said during a press conference on Jan. 22. "I think the majority of Americans would agree with me."

The legislation would also repeal a controversial pension cut for younger military retirees that Congress and President Obama approved in the budget deal last month, in addition to expanding certain veterans benefits, such as dental and medical care, education and caretaker stipends.

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