Our View: Honor and help on Veterans Day
On Veterans Day it’s appropriate to reflect that while we deservedlyhonor our veterans, we fall a little short for those veterans whose journey backinto civilian life is a rocky one.Notably, there were revelations earlier this year that while medical care at Walter Reed and other military hospitals was generally excellent, soldiers receiving outpatient care often confronted substandard housing conditions, maddening bureaucracy and institutional indifference. Solving those problems has been turned over to a presidential commission, but experience shows that what is needed is continuing scrutiny and oversight and not just the occasional blue-ribbon panel.Now, courtesy of a Pentagon report obtained by the Associated Press, we learn that substantial percentages of reservists are unhappy with the help the government gives them, or doesn’t, in getting their old civilian jobs back, as the law requires, after a military call-up.Nearly one-third of those surveyed said they had difficulty getting information on enforcing their rights, while 77 percent were so discouraged they didn’t even bother trying. And legal experts told the AP that the problem was not only understated but also worsening.A veteran who chooses to fight for the right to his old job can face dealing with three different bureaucraciesandlt;the Pentagon, the Labor Department and the Justice Department. Even then the aggrieved vets sense a lack ofenthusiasm for their cause. And they may be right. A former Labor Department attorney told the AP: “Most of the government investigators are too willing to accept the employer’s explanation for a worker’s dismissal.”We ask a lot of our reservists and Guards with repeated deployments. Expecting them to accept demotions or unemployment on their return is asking too much. And this Veterans Day weekend comes a report that veterans, almost a half million of them at one time during the year, make up a disproportionate percentage of the homeless, many of them further burdened by mental illness and drug or alcohol abuse.Help and services are available, but the challenge is getting them to thehomeless vets.We should resolve this Veterans Day to honor those who successfully made itback and to help those who are still struggling to make it all the way home.
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