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Honor for All Veterans

El Diario/La Prensa, Editorial, Staff Posted: Nov 11, 2008

Today is no parade for some veterans. Despite serving in the Armed Forces, performing acts of bravery and suffering the trauma of war, thousands of veterans are homeless.

Its difficult to pinpoint the number of homeless veterans in New York City, but the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans projects that they are 23 percent of the nations homeless population. Almost half of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness while others struggle with substance abuse.

Among homeless veterans, 47 percent are from the Vietnam era, which means they are now in or entering what are supposed to be their golden years. Many are black and Hispanic.

Homelessness is bad enough for anyone, especially in light of the wealth that abounds in this nation. But that these conditions are allowed to persist for veterans who served in a conflict more than 30 years ago says a whole lot about how much honor exists for them.

A larger wave of homelessness looms.

The Coalition for the Homeless warns that without an adequate supply of supportive housing, veterans who will eventually return in large numbers from Iraq and Afghanistan could fall into homelessness.

The trauma experienced in those wars could put more veterans, especially those from low-income communities, at risk of homelessness.

Advocates for the homeless say that the repeated failure of veterans benefits to provide for housing support has resulted in homeless veterans. As we look to a possible withdrawal from Iraq in 2010, thats a lesson we need to finally learn from.

A proactive housing policy would be the most compassionate and more than earned tribute to the returning sons and daughters. We urge the New York Congressional delegation, many of who supported going into Iraq, to marshal support for mandatory housing assistance as part of veterans benefits.

Related Articles:

Homeless Hispanics in New York Face Somber Future

Returning Iraq Vets Face Battles at Home

Women Vets of Color Speak Out

Back to School: A Veteran Goes from Iraq to College

Pink Slips Greet Many Returning Iraq War Vets

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