E-Activism can help our returning vets to become workers, not homeless. Help fix the insufficient GI Bill.

Regardless of your views on the war, our returning troops need to get the help they deserve from their former employer, the US government. The last thing we need is more homelessness.
(1)Strained by war, recently discharged veterans are having a harder time finding civilian jobs and are more likely to earn lower wages for years due partly to employer concerns about their mental health and overall skills, a government study says.

The Veterans Affairs Department report, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, points to continuing problems with the Bush administration's efforts to help 4.4 million troops who have been discharged from active duty since 1990.

The 2007 study by the consulting firm Abt Associates Inc. found that 18 percent of the veterans who sought jobs within one to three years of discharge were unemployed, while one out of four who did find jobs earned less than $21,840 a year. Many had taken advantage of government programs such as the GI Bill to boost job prospects, but there was little evidence that education benefits yielded higher pay or better advancement.
While there are great mostly independently resources such as Helmets to Hardhats, Hire A Hero, VetJobs and for getting them into the workforce once they return. While the health care isn't horrible, it's just not speedily available, the VA cannot adequately help the most severely injured and the veterans must rely on independent groups such as the Wounded Warrior Project, who I featured in an article in Union Review about a retired Fireman and 638 Steamfitter who go to extreme lengths to help the most severely injured to get the medical attention that our own government fails to. How? They go job to job and sell FDNY, NYPD and Union Construction Workers "Support Our Troops" T-shirts. They aren't alone there are hundreds if not thousands who help the WWP, think of all the good an organization like that could do if the government had kept their end of the bargain, and if Congress doesn't step up to the plate, we are going to have quite a few thousand new homeless veterans in this country.


How can you help our returning vets? Take a look at the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America who has made Congressional recommendations in five key areas to assist our new veterans:
(2)mental health, homecoming, health care and benefits, military readiness and government accountability. From these areas, they have chosen six IAVA Legislative Priorities: for 2008.
These men and women who risked their lives for this war need our help. The GI bill needs updating. They need better Mental Health Care.
(2)Rates of psychological injuries among new veterans are high and rising. At least 30 to 40% of Iraq veterans, or about half a million people, will face a serious psychological wound, including depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Multiple tours and inadequate time at home between deployments increase rates of combat stress by 50%.

In addition, when troops are near an exploding mortar or roadside bomb, the blast can damage their brains without visible injury. Traumatic Brain Injury can lead to emotional problems; vision, hearing, or speech problems; dizziness; sleep disorders; or memory loss. Between 150,000 and 300,000 of the 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have traumatic brain injuries.

The ramifications of psychological injuries are clear. Untreated mental health problems can and do lead to unemployment, domestic violence, substance abuse, homelessness and suicide. Twenty percent of married troops in Iraq say they are planning a divorce. At least 40,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been treated at a VA hospital for substance abuse. The current Army suicide rate is the highest it has been in 26 years.

and they need better education.
(2)President Roosevelt spoke more simply:

“[The GI Bill] gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down.”

Today, 1.5 million troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to a very different future than the one FDR made possible for the Greatest Generation. The current educational benefits offered to veterans are far lower than the original GI Bill, covering only 60–70% of the average cost of four years at a public college or university, or less than two years at a typical private college. National Guardsmen and Reservists, “citizen soldiers” who leave behind civilian lives to serve alongside active-duty troops, receive even lower education benefits, and are inadequately protected against job discrimination. And Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are already swelling the ranks of the unemployed and the homeless. Nearly 200,000 veterans of all generations are homeless on any given night.
The last thing our country needs is more homeless veterans, they risked their lives for our country.

You can help, send an E-Active E-Mail to congress asking for them to adopt the IAVA recommendations on rewriting the GI Bill and while your at it put your name on the petition called Drowning Pool, for better Mental Health Care for our vets.

Sources: (1) Associated press (2-7-08) (2) IAVA

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