Veterans and the concentration of wealth
Title: 23 percent of homeless are veterans of military
Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: May 29, 2004
From the article:
- After the homecomings are over and the yellow ribbons packed away, many who once served in America's armed forces may end up sleeping on sidewalks.
This is the often-unacknowledged postscript to military service. According to the federal government, veterans make up 9 percent of the U.S. population but 23 percent of the homeless population. Among homeless men, veterans make up 33 percent.
- It is impossible to know exactly how many U.S. veterans are on the streets, but experts estimate that about 300,000 of them are homeless on any given night and that about half a million experience homelessness at some point during the year.
You would think that veterans would be a protected class of citizen. People in the U.S. military literally put their lives on the line for the rest of us. Veterans serve their tour of duty, in many cases they are physically or psychologically damaged by that service, and then they are discharged. At that point they are often forgotten by the country they served. Politicians and other members of the corporate elite, especially during a war like the current war with Iraq, love to talk about how important the troops are. "We must support our troops," is an extremely common phrase.
But when it comes to actually spending money to help vets once they come home, the support wanes. Vets are, of necessity, supported by taxes. People concentrating wealth are opposed to taxes. The vets are collateral damage.
See also this article:
- The future looks even worse: A House Budget Committee is now proposing to cut VA spending by $15 billion over 10 years, starting with $463 million slashed from next year's budget. Legislators claim they're cutting fraud, waste, and abuse. But Joe Fox Sr., head of Paralyzed Veterans of America, who calls the cuts "an in-your-face insult to the veterans of this country," says the reduction will slam the poorest disabled veterans and cut GI Bill benefits for soldiers who are currently serving in Iraq. The plan could also mean the loss of 9,000 VA physicians in a short-handed VA system, he says.
For decades, vets say, they've watched their benefits fade in tandem with the diminishing national consciousness of their earlier sacrifices. "Pressures on the VA health care system," warns Joe Violante, legislative director for the Disabled American Veterans, "have escalated to a critical point that can no longer be ignored by our government." He and others recently told the House Veterans Affairs Committee that the VA is underfunded by almost $2 billion. But, in the midst of a stagnant economy, the proposed Bush tax cut, and the Bush war, where would more money come from? Apparently not from George W. Bush.
A week ago, the president summoned leaders from veterans groups to attend his live-TV speech urging on the troops in Iraq. "People serving in the military are giving their best for this country," Bush said earnestly, "and we have the responsibility to give them our full support. . . . " But while the president's $62.6 billion supplemental funding would provide fuel and supplies for the troops and benefits for the people of Iraq, Bush didn't mention that his agenda includes a $150 million aid cut to schools attended by military dependents, and support for billions in VA reductions.