On this Veterans Day, we pause to honor all those who served in the armed forces of the United States, but it’s easy to forget the number of veterans who now have disabilities as a result of their time served, whether from enemy fire, “friendly fire” or as a result of a training accident/exposure to toxic chemicals. Many more returning veterans have “invisible disabilities” such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to the Veteransinc.org website, one in 10 veterans is disabled, oftentimes by injuries sustained in combat.
The number of disabled veterans is increasing; more than 20,000 veterans were wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US Senate yesterday passed the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits which will give businesses up to $9,600 back for hiring unemployed veterans or who have service-related disabilities, which is a strong statement of bi-partisan support. Unfortunately, many of these disabled vets will face lifelong disabling and chronic conditions that can make it impossible for them to work in most conventional work settings
One of the biggest problems many disabled veterans face is a long wait for the government to handle their claims, with stories of inexcusable long waits for someone’s file to get moved into the Veterans Administration (VA). Other key issues are the need for the VA to recognize the growing needs of female veterans with disabilities and the growing number of disabled veterans who become homeless.
In our own Jewish community, many of our aging and frail seniors are World War II or Korean War veterans, and their progressive disabilities are getting worse, such as my own 89-year-old Dad whose hearing is almost completely gone in his right ear, from too many exposures to high-noise explosions during World War II without adequate ear protection. He would qualify for the VA benefits and free hearing aides, but doesn’t want to deal with hassle and red tape involved, so he relies on his Medicare insurance instead.
Helping out disabled vets should be as American as apple pie.