Live After Quit

Celebrate Veterans Day with Amazing VA Feats: Challenges Still Ahead

With Veterans Day just ahead, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reminding Americans of the remarkable contributions of the millions of veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The VA has cited many veterans’ achievements since the country’s inception, including: • Robert Smalls, a former slave who went on to command the naval steamship Planter during the Civil War. • Rosalie Jones, a suffragist recognized as the founder of the Gold Star Mother’s Day holiday in honor of mothers who have lost a child in military service. • Francis Currey, a veteran of the Battle of Metz during World War II who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. • Sally K. Ride, an astronaut and the first American woman to travel into outer space aboard the Challenger space shuttle. • Mary Walker, the first female physician in the U.S. Army and the first female recipient of the Medal of Honor. The VA has also celebrated veterans from every era of American history — including members of the Civil War pension rolls, World War I Doughboys, World War II soldiers and their families, Korean War veterans, Vietnam veterans, and all of those serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. However, despite the impressive list of accomplishments, the VA has painful reminders of the struggles that many veterans still face. Veterans homelessness has been a particular problem in recent years, with recent research from the VA showing that nearly 11% of homeless Americans are veterans. The VA has also been struggling with what many see as a backlog of veterans’ claims, leaving disabled veterans to wait for what can be long periods of time for disability benefits. These are just two of the issues facing the veteran community, and the VA is stepping up to find solutions. In the 2018 budget, the VA put forth a plan to increase spending for mental health services, jobs programs and housing for homeless vets, in addition to expanding educational opportunities for those who have served. The VA’s acknowledgment of veterans’ accomplishments serves as an inspirational reminder of what is possible when veterans are empowered. But as veterans’ contributions are celebrated, it’s important to recognize the difficulties still faced by many veterans and the need to work towards solutions for these issues.