Candice Lanier – As we prepare to honor U.S. veterans on Sunday, it needs to be acknowledged that under the Obama administration, the backlog of veterans’ disability claims jumped by 179 percent. That translates into 883,949 outstanding claims, according to Veterans Administration (VA) statistics.
This represents a near-record high, with 65.8 percent of claims having been backlogged for 125 days or more.
Also tragic is the fact that unemployment among young returning veterans is in the double digits. It is unconciable that those returning from the front lines are arriving home only to then face unemployment lines.
Outreach to our veterans is also important. What can you do? The Heritage Foundation has put together a brief list of suggestions:
- Contact means actively reaching out to the veterans and addressing specific needs that they and their families have. This could mean visiting military hospitals or reaching out to local chapters of national veterans’ organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion.
- Comradeship is a key part of the healing process, since no one understands the needs and thoughts of veterans like other veterans. The volunteer organization Warriors and Quiet Waters addresses this need by taking severely wounded veterans fly fishing in small groups. In these locations and settings, former service members are free to talk about their experiences with other veterans in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. (see photo above)
- Community is something volunteer organizations can’t exist without. Warriors and Quiet Waters is located in Bozeman, Montana, a community of around 40,000 people. With over 400 volunteers and most of its funding coming from individuals and small businesses in the area, Warriors and Quiet Waters demonstrates what a successful community model looks like.