Did you know that currently 12% of the homeless population is made up of veterans? That the majority of these men and women have physical disabilities or mental illnesses related to their time in service and that the majority of them have substance abuse problems? Did you know that these numbers are expected to go up, not down, as returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghan wars return to budget cuts and a general lack of support and affordable housing? Did you know that the US Army currently has a one strike and you’re out policy? Consider: veterans can be homeless for many reasons ranging from combat injuries, a lack of skills that are transferable to the civilian world, substance abuse, a sudden loss of their income and benefits, a lack of future planning, or criminal activity either in or after leaving the service. As we discussed in some of the challenges a couple of months ago, some of these factors are clearing within the control of the individual (i.e. criminal activity, future planning, substance abuse, etc) while some of them are clearly not in the control of the individual (i.e. sudden discharge, injuries, mental illnesses, or a non-transferable skill-set). So, here is the question I have for you this week: is anyone clearly in the wrong?
Is the US Government simply wrong for putting these men and women in harms way? Is the US Government in the wrong for not providing sufficient services for veterans who are transferring back into civilian life or who have problems caused by their time in the service? If so, what is the solution? Should we simply stop going to war? Should we raise taxes to pay for better services for veterans? Should we cut spending elsewhere (say on education)?
Are the veterans themselves in the wrong? Should they have prepared better for civilian life? Should they have been more careful in the field? Are these even realistic possibilities?
Is the civilian population of the US in the wrong? Should churches and community groups make a more concerted effort to reach out to returning or homeless veterans and help to provide the relief and development aid that they need? If so, who should do this and how?
Is it a combination of two or three options?
As always, write me a 1000 word story presenting and defending your answer.