American Heroes Are Dying in Poverty—No One Seems to Care

American heroes in poverty
Via Pixabay

We talk a lot in this country about our “American heroes,” yet what does this really mean? We take pause on the anniversaries of D-Day and 9-11 to reflect on patriotism and blood spilled in times of war and crisis. We celebrate Veterans Day and Memorial Day, to commemorate those who fought and those who sacrificed. But what do we do the rest of the year?

Have we set aside a few days to support our military heroes so we can comfort ourselves about ignoring them every other day? When we see a fully decorated veteran receiving medals and a ceremony, we applaud and cheer. When we see a homeless man struggling with PTSD from the things he saw in Vietnam, we keep walking.

What sets these two apart? Both saw the horrors of war. Both risked their lives, but one lost more of themselves than the other. Both deserve our respect and our compassion.

According to National Veterans Homeless Support (NVHS), 1.5 million veterans still live below the federal poverty level while contributing factors like disability and mental health are much higher in the veteran population.

This seems to be the elephant in the room. Many of those who gave selflessly for this country in challenging times are now in need themselves, and sadly live in a nation that looks the other way. If we truly support our American heroes, we must support them after their service has ended or we do not truly appreciate the person but only the value they have to us in our time of need.

We believe that change needs to happen across the board. Our veterans need community outreach, assistance programs for those struggling with the hidden scars of war, and action to combat homelessness. Tell your elected representatives that our heroes deserve better. While you’re at it, tell them that members of the greatest generation don’t deserve to live in poverty by signing our petition.