Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Veterans Day? Really?

I am a veteran.

It's that time of year again. The annual Veteran's Day parade in Denver. Lots of commercials thanking our veterans and inviting them in for a special deal.

Meanwhile, the reality of how veterans are treated and what some of their lives look like is heartbreaking. Join our military, go to war, leave your family, experience unreal horrors, come back, and good luck. Have a nice day. Thank you very much.

Did you know that on average, 18 veterans a day commit suicide? This number doesn't include active duty personnel who commit suicide. That is a whole other blog post.

Did you know that one in four homeless people are veterans? It is estimated that on any given night there are 131,000 homeless veterans on the streets.

In Colorado, the unemployment rate for veterans is 10%, much higher than for other people. Imagine coming back from Afghanistan, having the same level of education you had when leaving high school, having some type of trauma, and then being on a job search.

In many communities, those that want to help have taken the situation into their own hands. At Stand downs across the country thousands of vets are served meals, given free health care, accepted into drug or alcohol rehabs, given help with a job search, and told that someone cares about them.

"Stand down" is a military term for a temporary halt in an offensive. There was a recent Stand down in Denver. Hundreds of vets were served.

Listen to any politician and you will hear wonderful things about veterans. Many of their actions are nothing close. As more and more folks return from war and leave the military, the situation seems to get worse. All of this talk of budget cutting and nobody wants to talk about how that affects our veterans. It is complete BS.

There are many ways that we can help our veterans. You can look in your own community for a local group. One of my favorites is the Wounded Warrior Project which serves veterans and active duty folks. Those returning from war wounded (in any way) have an even tougher time adjusting. You can also see if there is a Stand down in your community. There are 60 nationwide. I assure you that once you volunteer at one of these you will change some one's life (perhaps even your own).

So you get the idea. Regardless of where you stand on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of whether or not you know a veteran, and regardless of what your political belief is, our veterans need help.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to know more about the Wounded Warrior Project you can click below.


  1. What's the difference between WWP and Disabled American Veterans? I was surprised that there were 500K friends on FB for WWP, and only 50K friends on FB for DAV? Which do you like better?

  2. I think they both rock in serving vets. I don't know much about DAV. I think WWP is much more newer on the scene. I think a donation to either would be great.

  3. What a wonderful post. Thank you.

    This is an issue near and dear to my heart. I was fortunate to come home from Desert Storm mostly whole, but I still have problems with anxiety and PTSD. And so many of my friends came home with much larger problems - or didn't come home at all. It hurts my heart that our veterans are only thought of once or twice a year and the rest of the time they are ignored. Thank you for adding your voice and thank you so much for your service.