Veterans Day All Year Round
Veterans are used by politicians as props at Veterans Day events, but their needs largely are forgotten the rest of the year [“The Conversation: Veterans Day,” Nov. 11-17].
People ride around in SUVs with stickers that say “Support Our Troops,” but when a group home or a transitional home for vets is proposed for their neighborhood, they turn out in opposition.
There are 174,000 veterans on Long Island, more than in any area of the U.S. excepting San Diego; only 35,000 have applied for VA benefits. More than 5,000 vets on Long Island are either living in shelters or on the street. Several hundred are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury.
There are only a little more than 200 units of transitional housing administered by groups like United Veterans Beacon House, Suffolk County United Veterans, Family & Children’s Association and the Interfaith Nutrition Network. Transitional housing helps a veteran go from substance abuse or homelessness to a job and the ability to rent an apartment.
The Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island, a consortium of more than 70 providers of services for veterans, is co-hosting a conference on helping homeless veterans on Saturday, Nov. 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, 48 Shelter Rock Rd., Manhasset. There will be representatives of federal, state and county agencies that deal with homeless veterans as well as members of nonprofits and advocates. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. A $3 donation for food is requested. Veterans are free. All are welcome. For more information call John Javis at 516-489-1120, Ext. 1101.
Vietnam vet, 1971-72
Veterans of the Draft
Those of us who served during the draft years know who we are. Many of us have similar feelings about today’s volunteer military, and for that reason I feel that Veterans Day will lose whatever significance it still may have. I don’t intend to make an argument about right and wrong, but I can say that many of those who served prior to the end of the draft don’t quite see today’s volunteers in the same light. We HAD to go, even if we opted to volunteer to have more decision making in our destinies. Today, the only ones who go have opted in, oftentimes solely for the purpose of that monthly check and nothing more. The fact that they are caught in the reality of the stupid war-mongering leadership in the armed forces is a detrimental side effect of what they perceived as a quick way to easy money and benefits.
Sorry if I come off bitter, but I suppose I am. First Vietnam (and to a similar degree Korean) veterans got spit upon and called fools, and now the volunteers who rarely went into war on their own volition are coming home to parades and back-slapping for doing their jobs, nothing more.