Arlington National Cemetery.

Today we honor the fallen in ceremony and prayer. At this time in history, however, we must ask ourselves if we, as a nation, are now dishonoring them by our inaction on behalf of the veterans whose lives are in shambles.

As mothers and grandmothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and neighbors, are we not the ones who need to stand for our country’s most courageous sons and daughters and their families?

Admiral Mike Mullen.

On Monday, May 7, 2012, The Washington Post printed an op-ed piece written by Admiral Mike Mullen (once the top uniformed adviser to the President) and Steven Cohen, co-chairs of the Robin Hood Foundation’s Veterans Advisory Board.   It addressed the need for jobs for veterans, and it contained this paragraph:

Steven Cohen.

The struggles our veterans face are such that 18 of them commit suicide every day, according to recent reports. That is more than 6,500 suicides per year. As of last week, 6,414 U.S. service members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, suicide kills as many of our troops in one year as our enemies have killed in the past decade.

The piece went on to say that while the national unemployment rate has been falling and is currently at 8.1, unemployment among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is at 29 percent. Put another way, almost one-third of our youngest veterans are unemployed.

Would we call this unbelievable? Tragic? Untenable?  No matter what we call it, it is our problem and our responsibility.

It is to be hoped that the existing organizations will gain ground in their fight for rights, jobs, education and futures for those who have served. We can all search online to find the organization that meets our philosophy of giving.  And don’t we all want to dig a little deeper in finding organizations that meet the needs of their families?

The Intrepid Family of Foundations may interest you. And we found a quirky website called Craig Connects that posted a number of ways to help veterans’ families as well

Beyond that, the greatest comfort is in community. Only you know what works in the community in which you live.  For some it will be creating support groups for women whose loved ones have died or are suffering. For others it will be volunteering in organizations that span a wider terrain.  For others, it will be filling a need that is not yet addressed.

Most of all, given that op-ed article by Admiral Mullen and Steven Cohen, what we can do is help create jobs for veterans, whether by grassroots activism or by writing to our representatives in Washington. It is an election year, and the issues currently seem to be defined in terms of personal beliefs and individual economic needs. Again, as women—the caregivers in society—we need to help expand that conversation to include the needs of those who have protected our country and those who love them.

Let us honor the memory of those who died for our country by helping veterans and their families to have some new and happy memories on which to reflect next year at this time.






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