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Veterans Day 2009

Updated on January 20, 2010
Micky Dee, Clark, Dabney, Blackwell, Flannigan at Camp Carroll near the DMZ, Vietnam
Micky Dee, Clark, Dabney, Blackwell, Flannigan at Camp Carroll near the DMZ, Vietnam
Micky Dee at the Cam Lo River near the DMZ, Vietnam
Micky Dee at the Cam Lo River near the DMZ, Vietnam

Veterans Day 2009

It's veterans Day 2009. I was treated to lunch by my good friend and cycling companion, TJ. We had fish tacos at the Governors Club. Pretty dang fancy it was!

Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military Veterans. A Federal Holiday, it is usually observed on November 11. However, if it occurs on a Sunday then the following Monday is designated for holiday leave, and if it occurs Saturday then either Saturday or Friday may be so designated. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says the nation's homeless veterans are mostly males (four percent are females). The vast majority are single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45 percent suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. 47 percent of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam Era. More than 67 percent served our country for at least three years and 33 percent were stationed in a war zone.

Some of the factors affecting all homelessness are: extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income, and access to health care. A large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.

Government money for homeless veterans is currently limited and serves only one in 10 of those in need. Until priorities are reset, it is critical that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities most Americans take for granted: housing, employment and health care.

23% of the homeless population are veterans.2.3 million to 3.5 million people experience homelessness in America each year. By taking 23 percent of that range, that would indicate there are between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans who are homeless at some point during the year.

76% of Veterans experience alcohol, drug, or mental health problems

33% of the male homeless population are veterans.

In January 2000, The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a special report "Veterans in Prison or Jail". Among the findings are:

Among adult males in 1998, there were 937 incarcerated veterans per 100,000 veteran residents.

5 of every 6 incarcerated veterans were honorably discharged from the military.

About 20% of veterans in prison reported seeing combat duty during their military service.

In 1998, an estimated 56,500 Vietnam War-era veterans and 18,500 Persian Gulf War veterans were held in State and Federal prisons.

Among State prisoners, the median age of veterans was 10 years older than other prison and jail inmates.

Among State prisoners, veterans (32%) were about 3 times more likely than non-veterans (11%) to have attended college.

About 35% of veterans in State prison, compared to 20% of non-veterans, were convicted of homicide or sexual assault.

Veterans (30%) were more likely than other State prisoners (23%) to be first-time offenders.

Among violent State prisoners, the average sentence of veterans was 50 months longer than the average of non-veterans.

Nearly 60% of veterans in State prison had driven drunk in the past, compared to 45% of other inmates.

About 70% of veterans, compared to 54% of other State prisoners, had been working full-time before arrest.

Homelessness is the end result of many problems that include health issues, economic hardships, and lack of affordable housing.

These issues impact all homeless individuals, but some of the additional challenges that veterans face when trying to overcome these obstacles are: prolonged separation from traditional supports such as family and close friends; highly stressful training and occupational demands that can affect their personality, self esteem and ability to communicate with people in the civilian sector after their separation from military service; and non-transferability of some military occupational specialties into the civilian work force.

The VA reports that nearly 30% of the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who have sought VA medical care since separating from the military have exhibited potential symptoms of mental and emotional stress. Close to one-half of those have a possible diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For young veterans, economic hardships usually involve employment issues and mounting debt. The cost of housing in most communities makes it unlikely that a single wage earner will be able to afford a comfortable and safe rental unit. The recent housing crisis and economic downturn conspire against younger veterans in terms of both housing cost burden and employment security. Though many military occupations prepare veterans for the workforce, many combat arms specialties do not, and this affects younger OIF-OEF veterans more than other age cohorts.

According to an analysis of 2000 Census data performed by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) in 2005, about 1.5 million veterans – nearly 6.3% of the nation's veteran population – have incomes that fall below the federal poverty level, including 634,000 with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty threshold. Many of these veterans have no health insurance or access to education or training programs to increase their earnings potential.

OIF/OEF veterans are entitled to return to their pre-deployment jobs and pay scale under USERRA protection after their discharge, but increasingly many jobs are disappearing because of layoffs and business failures. Veterans who cannot find other employment quickly are in imminent danger of becoming dependent on shared living arrangements or becoming homeless.

In the early morning hours of November 11, 1918, a shrill fire whistle began to blow, mingled with all the other bells and whistles in town. At first some thought there was a massive fire. Others guessed the real news and soon everyone was screaming with joy. A parade spontaneously formed. It included the town band, followed by the town fire truck, followed by hundreds of cars decorated with American flags. Children gathered in the town square and shot fireworks. An elderly Negro woman marched up and down Broad Street, the main thoroughfare, waving the American flag. For one day, at least, segregation took a backseat as other Negro citizens joined the march around the courthouse square and the celebration inside it, waving more flags and shooting fireworks with Caucasian citizens.

But if any Negroes thought that their loyalty and aid in winning the war would finally lead to true democracy and equality, they soon discovered they were wrong. Caucasians throughout Georgia, as elsewhere in the South, made it clear to returning Negro veterans that seeing them in uniform or hearing that they were determined to no longer suffer the injustices of Jim Crow was an offense to their sensibilities. Roughly sixty miles northeast of Bainbridge, GA, in the town of Sylvester, Daniel Mack, a Negro veteran, was sentenced to thirty days in jail for announcing that now that he had been to France and fought for democracy, he would no longer accept mistreatment from Caucasians. As severe as it was, even that punishment wasn’t enough in the eyes of some local citizens. Before he could finish his sentence a mob broke into the town jail, dragged him out, and beat him to death. Closer still to Bainbridge, in Blakely, forty-three miles to the north, as soon as Wilbur Little alighted from the train after returning from the war, he was forced by a group of local Caucasians to take off his uniform and walk home in his underwear. Despite such intimidation he was resolute in his determination to wear it around town anyway. As a result, he eventually paid with his life.

If you search the web for Veterans Day, you can find hundreds of web-pages about the day and web-pages directing you to all kinds of celebrations in honor of the veteran.

I would prefer little and honest celebration of the Veteran by giving the Veteran a real home.

You can honor this Veteran and many more in a better way than brief celebrations for a few hours or a day or a free meal offered at Applebees or hanging ribbons on your cars.

You can assure every American a real home, real health-care, and real dignity. These are the realities for which Veterans really fight. These are the treasures that every Veteran wants for his countrymen.

When courts lie about their Veterans, those in charge of those courts should be deported from the Veteran's country.

When people like Bill O'Reilly lie and downplay the number of Veterans in this country, Bill O'Reilly and his ilk should find another country.

I have seen with American injustice in the courts and experienced what American lies can do. Veterans Day, as it is celebrated, will not ease the pain.

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    • swosugrad09 profile image

      swosugrad09 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wow, that is really heart wrenching that so many veterans are homeless! Thanks for sharing the honest truth the American media and public don't tell us. I only wish there was something I could do to help solve the problem.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      astounding problems and it needs solutions too Micky, thanks for the share and hope everybody will know that there are homeless veterans too, great hub, Maita

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Thank you prettydarkhorse. You have a warm heart.

    • manlypoetryman profile image

      manlypoetryman 7 years ago from (Texas !) Boldly Writing Poems Where No Man Has Gone Before...

      "A Nation which forgets its' Defenders...Will itself...soon be forgotten!"

      Thank you for your service to us...Mickey!

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Thank you Manly Manly Poetryman. I do appreciate your kindness. Thanks and best thoughts to you for the coming year.

    • manlypoetryman profile image

      manlypoetryman 7 years ago from (Texas !) Boldly Writing Poems Where No Man Has Gone Before...

      Have a Great New Year, Mickey...Semper Fi!

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Semper Fi Manly Poetry Man!

      Happy New Year

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      I think most Americans have become spoiled.We to easily forget what service men do for our country day in and day out.I have never served my country.My father was in the Navy world war 2 and two of my older brothers also joined the services.One in the Marines and the other one in the Navy.I have great respect for all those who protect all the freedoms I am lucky to have.Thank you for your service and please share more stories.I am moved by your dedication.

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Thank you Dream On. Thanks for coming by and commenting! Let's keep the dream alive!

    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 7 years ago from United States

      One Wife's Lament.

      ©-MFB III

      Empty, crushed,

      this dirge I must wail

      of wedded vows rent

      asunder by a hammer's fall.

      What was lead-ached in his chest,

      now lead-aches in my penciled woes,

      of my own severing I can attest,

      from dreams pursed in my soul,

      since just a wee lass.

      My hope chest beaten with bare fists

      my breasts plated in bitter herbs,

      exiled to the isle of widowhood,

      from when last my love

      left his most cherished

      embarking over desert sands.

      Bound to the king's guard

      in pursuit of the oiled palms

      of wealthy lords blood-lust,

      killing barbarians for black gold,

      under pretenses of massive catapults.

      Wizards weaving weapons of mayhem

      that would set my beloveds homeland at risk,

      forked tongues in castle walls

      instigating unnecessary battle.

      Secret schemes becoming endless screams,

      in the cradle of Babylon.... rocked,

      and so he bid me wait as he set off

      to slay the fictional dragons others raised.

      Without any proper armor, rushed to fight

      in chariots rendered coffins by strength's lack,

      flag draped and wheel-less, ruined he returned

      in the belly of a winged sarcophagus

      his dissembled heart penned deeply in a plot,

      that wrote not of our once forever love.

      The stench of death dissolved

      the bonds we pledged,

      I'm wed to a stone cross, and flower beds,

      Golgotha times ten thousand crosses raised,

      near one that breaks my heart at Arlington.

      They bade him dwell in

      earth's cave where he'll sleep,

      midst hiber-nations of young men entombed,

      while I at daybreak wander, bringing wreaths

      of poppy's much like he might have been known,

      by tiny sired flesh, their poppy gone.

      Before the seed was sown, now fallow fields,

      embrace his flesh, held tight by mother earth,

      while far above his one love weeps his loss,

      while other sobs are heard on distant slopes.

      One wonders that the tears in gallons shed,

      would not have bloomed an endless daisy field,

      of petals left un-plucked by those who rot,

      who whisper once I loved, but love is naught,

      it lies slain in the last battle they fought.

      During useless war that callous leaders sought.

      six feet above the somber widows wring

      their empty hands and hearts then stagger home,

      and leave behind their dreams reduced to bone.

    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 7 years ago from United States

      Totally stumped by it all

      Commentary:

      They sit

      in institutional

      vomit green rooms

      strapped

      in wheeled chairs

      awaiting anything

      but their own

      endless glances

      at their

      stumps for feet

      and nubs for hands

      and scar tissue

      for faces

      some gaze one eyed

      others are merely

      wishing they could

      smoke or scratch an itch

      but only elbow stumps

      rest on padded arms

      and some no longer

      have the desire

      even if they could

      hours pass tick tick tick

      and imaginary feet and legs

      and hands and other missing

      various body parts

      throb throb throb

      almost six thousand

      maimed for the

      liberation of Iraq

      many hundreds of them

      stuffed in V.A. hospitals

      and unable to wave flags

      cause they can't

      hold the stick

      unable even to

      handily vote out

      the man who helped them

      come back to the states

      back to the states

      of being crippled

      blinded and maimed

      no parades here

      no young ladies

      looking for heroic kisses

      they usually look away

      and shudder when

      they do happen by

      purple hearts do not address

      purple scars etched

      forever in flesh

      Kleenex are useless

      socks are a misnomer

      and there's no one there

      to wipe the tears

      and so they sit

      day after day

      seperated from

      their members

      and from the war

      that took them

      out of public view

      leaving many of them

      totally stumped by it all.

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      It's all true MFB. If you don't hate war with all your heart you haven't done it right.

      War sucks. The rich, yes the rich and the powerful have started all I've seen so far. Yes- even in the Mid-East.

      Until our Injustice System is overhauled and every Vet has a home, there is no credibility.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      I find myself rereading and remembering once more my sadness for the hurt and the suffering.Thanks has to go farther than words.It has to be in the hearts of all Americans.

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      DREAM ON- lets dream- to make wars obsolete. But when a country calls its people out for such a horror, let's not forget. Thank you very much!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      It never ceases to amaze me how disposable veterans are to the government. It is appalling the way many returning vets are treated in this country. I enjoyed reading your article. So many problems and so little attention from our leaders, or the general public.

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Hi Coolmon! You are so right. We have too many "idols" here in America. Our idols should be those who give there all. Veterans--humanitarians--policemen--firemen! But there are no disposable people. Our "injustice system" tries to say differently. Thank you Coolmon!

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio

      My Veteran brother finally has a home. It took him 8 years of suffering to get the assistance he has always deserved. He will die in his own home. He is content with that.

      Thank you for writing such a great hub.

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      Yes Sir Tom. He deserves to be in a place of safety. It's rough out here for too many. We are our brother's keeper.

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 6 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      I was so shocked to see that some of the homeless I was working with were Veterans! This Hub has meaning! Thank you for caring. God Bless you!!!

    • Micky Dee profile image
      Author

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      Thank you very much drpastorcarlotta! God bless!

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