Veterans Day is upon us, that time of year in which we all pause to remember the sacrifices of our armed forces. But this reflection should take place every day, not just Nov. 11.
Amid the parades, speeches and ceremonies is a poorly kept — and poorly dealt with — secret: the plight of so many men and women who remain wounded long after the battle is over.
According to a report released by United Way of Greater Los Angeles on Friday, thousands of veterans in Los Angeles County are falling into poverty and unemployment, despite efforts to find them permanent housing and services.
Research commissioned by the nonprofit found that the number of post-9/11 veterans living below the federal poverty line in L.A. County increased sharply during the recession, from about 4% in 2008 to nearly 12% in 2010. And nearly 19% were unemployed — a rate that is much higher than for veterans as a whole, who suffered unemployment at a comparable rate to the civilian population, or about 12%, according to the L.A. Times.
That we as a society could let these trends continue, despite the lingering effects of the Great Recession, is a sad commentary on the civilian operation these veterans left behind to protect.
So as we put on our patriotic garb and listen to rousing renditions of “America the Beautiful” at Veterans Day events, perhaps we should recognize that our service men and women need more than just salutes and “thank yous.” They need to be put back in the fold