Veterans are neglected but we should care

Tj Favela/The Collegian
Tj Favela/The Collegian

America has a problem and our veterans are the ones suffering the consequences.

Americans often pride themselves on being the greatest nation in the world. As a matter of fact, 23% of Americans agree to the sentiment according to Pew Research Center

With patriotism so heavily emphasized in the U.S.nited States, this percentage checks out. Drive down a road in almost any rural area in the country and you are bombarded with American flags and its various iterations. Children are taught to pledge allegiance to this country and songs revering the beauty of America are sung in choir classes.

For the fifth of the population that so heavily believe in the greatness of America over other countries, any action that may resemble a form of protest or put into question the supremacy of the United States sends them into a red, white and blue rage.

Take Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality against Black Americans. The act was labeled as disrespectful to veterans and shortly thereafter, he faced death threats and outrage from the media. 

Veterans are highly regarded among Americans, with a national holiday celebrated annually to commemorate their service. Nearly half of discretionary spending is allocated to the military, yet veterans make up a third of the homeless population.

Surely in the greatest country where so much effort is spent on protecting our freedom, we would devote more care to our veterans. But alas, that is not the case. 

There are definite perks that come with service. A pension, insurance and of course a military ID that will get you the occasional discount. Paired with the well-deserved thanks and praise, it seems like a sweet gig. But unfortunately, it is often the people that have risked their lives for this country that receive the worst treatment in return.

With the dangerous and traumatic situations those enlisted may face, veterans are often predisposed to developing post-traumatic stress disorder. The trauma is often so debilitating that working is no longer, rendering the individual to homelessness. 

While we do in fact offer insurance and amenities such as Veterans Affairs, they lack funding. The VA has historically missed the mark on providing assistance to veterans. Whether it’s a lack of accessibility to veterans in rural areas or excessive wait times for appointments, the people who deserve medical care have a harder time acquiring it than civilians. And veterans with PTSD are often unable to secure counseling due to insurance only giving a few providers.

We are so quick to encourage our youth to join the military to live a fulfilling life of service, yet we fail to recognize the neglect we give to them post service. A fancy license plate and a parade of pickup trucks with American flags are not alleviating the years of neglect we have imparted.

America was built under the belief that we are all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The ones that have fought so valiantly for the right should be entitled to the same. Our hypernationalism is hypocritical and it is time America corroborates the claims of its dominance.