As we commemorate this rememberance day, November 11th, as Veteran’s Day, we should remind ourselves of a few unpleasant facts…
Since the draft ended in 1973, the all-volunteer military has become a significant source of jobs, education and other benefits for an increasing number of the working (and not-so-working) poor.
There are more than 23,000,000 military veterans in the US. Over 2 million are from the Iraq and Afghan conflicts.
There is an estimated 16% of Iraq vets with a substance abuse problem, and 20% with a mental disorder or other cognitive impairment. On any given night, 130,000 veterans are homeless.
Given the general tendency increasingly in the US to ignore homelessness, mental disorders, and substance abuse problems until they become criminal matters, there are more the 140,000 vets in the nation’s prisons…down from 225,000 ten yrs ago.
Some 40% of this number are in federal prison for drug “crimes” (15% for state prisons). Five out of six prisoner-vets have discharges under honorable conditions. About 20% are combat veterans.
As a veteran myself of the 101st Airborne (1959-61), I wish to greet all of my comrades—and all military veterans—on this special day.
I think we can do a lot better…