Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Local officials should be finding solutions, not just celebrating, on Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day and Dallas City Hall is all festive for the occasion. But city officials and others should take some time out during the day and come to terms with sobering facts about today's veterans. I don't know what the local figures show, but nationally it is estimated that 131,000 veterans are homeless, sleeping on the streets or in charity shelters. Not only that, 3 percent of them are veterans from our most recent incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, 18 months after their discharge, these servicemen and women have bottomed out.

Gen. Eric Shinseki, a foe of the President Bush's Iraq policies who is now President Obama's Secretary of Veterans Affairs, has promised to lead a national drive to to end veteran homelessness within the next five years. He has also pledged $3.2 billion to the effort for additional veterans' housing, job, education and medical programs.

But in order for the general to be successful, he is going to need the support of Congress and local communities. That's why I would like to see someone from the local community take time out today and acknowledge that we should not send our young men and women off to foreign lands to fight wars they didn't start, only to see them lose a major life battles when they return home.

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