As I sit here reading the posts about remembering our Veterans on this hallowed day, I can’t help but feel that remembering them is just not enough. This is just one day of the year. There are 364 days when we seem to forget all about our Veterans. They have served their country in a way that literally put their lives at stake. When they return home, they find themselves underserved by those who sent them off to war. How often have we all read or watched news stories about the sad shape of Veterans Hospitals or Veterans services. As long as I can remember I’ve heard stories from Veterans about how difficult it is to navigate the system that was meant to serve them. Its a sad story. And its nothing new. Yet somehow after the light of the news fades, things always seem to revert to a sorry state of affairs. How can this be? What kind of society would turn its back on its wounded warriors?
It would appear that politicians love to make speeches about our heroes. But when it comes to taking care of them, they seem to be less interested. Just look at the shameful way that the Zadroga Act was allowed to end. There is nothing political in taking care of those who have risked their lives to save others. Elected officials have spent untold taxpayer dollars on building statues, memorials, and museums, yet when it comes to taking long term care of the actual people who risked everything and came to the aid of those in the burning World Trade Center, and working on the site, putting themselves at risk, there is an absurd disconnect. Once again I am left shaking my head at how this can be true.
Our political leaders appear to be more interested in naming a bridge after one of their own than in making sure that our heroes are properly taken care of in a way that preserves their dignity. There is just something fundamentally wrong with this. Why is it so difficult to provide adequate funding for those who put their lives at risk in the service of their country? If you were to contrast the way politicians make sure they have the finest health care versus they way Veterans have to deal with bureaucracy and questionable facilities, it simply leaves you empty. We need to do better.
So, on this Veterans Day, take the time to contact your elected officials and let them know that you want to make sure we are doing a better job taking care of our veterans. Let them know that you don’t plan to forget about them until next Veterans Day. A simple email is a good start. But remember to follow it up. They have earned our respect and support. Lets not forget them. And a reminder about renewing the Zadroga Act permanently should be thrown in too!