Caring for Our Troops: Protecting those Who Risk their Lives to Protect Us
Serving in any army, particularly one as actively engaged in warfare as the US Army and the rest of the forces, is a big price for any soldier to pay. Political views aside, the courageous women and men who serve in the forces are immediately putting their lives on the line because they believe in protecting their country and the values upon which it was founded. These are people who, when returning home, are not only filled with an immense pride and dignity, but a deep love for their homeland which they will defend with their lives. But it is not only their lives that they put on the line – it is their livelihood, and quality of life itself. The work they do often leaves devastating implications on themselves and their loved ones, especially in the case of PTSD. And more than ever, veterans are left in the dark when it comes to getting the proper healthcare, as well as the chance to enjoy a normal, civilian life.
When it’s Over
… it’s never really over. People who sign up for the military are more than aware that it is a life-changing decision for themselves and their loved ones, and that nothing will ever be the same again. But this does not immediately render their right to a normal lifestyle as non-valid. While many people who have served are able to return to a civilian lifestyle and enjoy a regular job, bring up a family, and celebrate life in general, there are many others who struggle to adjust and find employment. The country’s turmoil with the recession has made employment difficult for people across a wide spectrum of demographics, even those with high qualifications from leading post-secondary institutions. People who have served in the forces have an incredible set of skills and qualifications, not only from their training but from their experiences on the field and the emotional growth and resilience they have cultivated. These people – dedicated, loyal, disciplined and trustworthy – make the perfect candidates for employees, yet are often considered “over-qualified” or in some cases, too far removed from civilian life.
Everyone deserves a fair chance to make a living, especially those who have risked their lives to protect others. Healthcare and a chance for employment isn’t an entitlement but a right. Healthcare has come a long way for veterans who are now covered for life, but this doesn’t mean that they always receive the best care and for illnesses such as PTSD, this is detrimental. Veterans also receive discounts on transportation on major routes for Greyhound and Amtrak, and individual businesses may choose to offer advantages as well as a small token of appreciation for the time they have served. When venturing abroad, vets can also look into coverage for pre-existing conditions if their healthcare doesn’t take care of their needs outside of the US. Fortunately, there are many companies offering viable options, but coverage should extend for vets outside of the US as well if they choose to travel. The Foreign Medical Program is responsible for taking care of the medical needs of vets abroad, but they are subject to certain criteria like injuries which are a result of an incident while in service. For some veterans, going abroad is a chance to make a new start, rebuild family life, and have a new experience – this is right we should all have. Surely veterans should have this chance too.
Additionally, the number of homeless veterans is also alarming. Various factors such as unemployment and ongoing mental health issues, as well as the lack of a personal support system and a stable infrastructure in place contribute to many living on the streets. As well as facing extreme weather conditions, physical health problems and worrying about their next meal, they also face the stigma of being homeless and being outcast by society.
We praise our military and we use them not only to fight the battles of a few men in power, but as the beacon of strength and loyalty which is symbolic of the United States. We uphold our Armed Forces which a pride and fervor which is virtually unparalleled in the rest of the world. So why, then, do we give our vets such a cold welcome when the homecoming ceremonies are over? It’s time to change things and give them a country they can still be proud to fight for, and a life they can live when they have sacrificed everything for us.