Suggested sounds small, but it is still too

Suggested Title: Reversing
Trump’s Harms Against Our Nation’s Heroes

Being a veteran has never been easy. An average of 20
veterans commit suicide each day and even more suffer from irreversible psychological
damage caused by war. President Trump recently signed a bill into law that was
aimed at helping veterans receive adequate mental healthcare, an effort which
many praised.1 However,
this is only one good deed in a reign of misdeeds that have directly impacted the
vulnerable veteran community.

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Even with a record of disrespectful comments about the
military and its members, President Trump has taken no steps to show that he
cares about the longevity of veterans after serving their country. Within his
first three days in office, he signed an order that froze pay for thousands of
veterans – or 31% of the federal workforce. 2
Additionally, he’s made numerous campaign promises that he has yet to keep,
including care wait times for veterans, disability compensation, and increased
funding for vet programs. In the most recent blow against veterans, the VA
proposed a funding cut that would have left elderly and disabled veterans with
less care than they already receive.3

It’s clear that this administration does not put the heroes
that defended our country at the top of its list, but it’s something that the
country must do to help one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations after
they have given so much for their fellow citizens.

The Statistics are in:
Veterans Need Help

The state of veteran welfare within the nation is appalling,
but many turn a blind eye to it. With the number of programs that support
veterans, it is easy to see how the American public is lulled into a false sense
that their war heroes are supported. In the United States, over 22 million
Americans are veterans, or 7% of the population.4The
percentage sounds small, but it is still too many people to be taken care of
under the limited resources of governmental branches and nonprofits. All
veterans, regardless of the state of their mental or physical health, require
healthcare, housing, and compensation. Sadly, many veterans do not receive any
of these benefits.

When people who have sacrificed their time to defend their
country aren’t supported, it costs us all. In 2014, 50,000 homeless veterans
were reported in the United States. Among those homeless vets, 45% of them
showed signs of mental illness.5
However, even for those vets who are not homeless, mental illness still runs
rampant. The same report showed that 77.3% of service members in active duty
had been hospitalized at some point for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – a
disorder that requires consistent treatment. The mental health of service
members and veterans also takes a toll on their families, and the report showed
that 56% of spouses of military members and veterans were stressed or
experienced anxiety because of their partners’ mental health.

The state of mental health care among veterans is certainly
sordid, but so too is the physical health of veterans. Of the 22 million
veterans in the US, 3.8 million have service-related disabilities. In 2014, it
was estimated that 19 veterans died in the month of January waiting for care in
conditions that could have been prevented6.
These veterans depend on the care that the VA offers them, as their average
income is only $37,3077.
This is hardly enough to pay for the average American life, let alone the
insurmountable medical bills that come with being disabled or treating a
service-caused mental health issue.

Prioritizing Veterans

The current budget for the United States military is
approximately $824 billion. Of that $824 billion dollars, only $78.9 billion is
focused on Veteran Affairs while a whopping $574.5 billion is spent on the base
military budget alone8.
With wars raging on and our national debt creeping up, it is high time that
priorities are refocused on the people of the United States. Veterans gave more
than just service to the American people – they put their lives on the line in
defense of the country. Even with the few benefits, meager pay, and harrowing
statistics that face them, they still opted to serve their country in a manner
that could have cost them their lives. It is both fair and in the best interest
of the United States to support them in as many ways possible. We have the
money in the military budget to eradicate homelessness among veterans and to
increase their mental health funding. We can’t wait until the next presidential
administration to increase the VA budget. Lives are on the line on our own soil
now.