Veteran Rights By Mitchell Lafferty

How Veterans Rights is an Issue

On November 11th, the United States celebrates Veterans day; the same day WW1 hostilities formally ended. In the past century America has been involved in both World Wars, Vietnam War, Korean War, Iraqi War, and Afghanistan. However, about 8.6% of veterans are homeless, due to, “extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care... lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse… [and] military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment” (NCHV. Paragraph 8). Today Veterans need more government support, so that when they return from combat they have a way of income, home, and medical insurance after they risked their lives for the preservation of Constitutional rights.

"It is unacceptable that disabled veterans in Illinois rank at the bottom of the list when it comes to disability pay. We owe our disabled veterans more than speeches, parades and monuments." -- Dick Durbin
How Veteran Rights is Similar to Reconstruction

Veteran Rights and the blacks in the Reconstruction era are similar because both were not given as much support as they should have post-war. Today Veterans often suffer from PTSD when they come back from a traumatic war. According to the National Institute of Health, 31% of veterans who return from Vietnam, 10% Gulf war veterans, 11% of Afghanistan veterans, and 20% of Iraqi veterans have PTSD (Medicine Plus, Page two). Having PTSD will often trigger flashbacks of trauma or cause quick mood changes. Veterans who return from traumatic experiences require government support and should be better assisted by the government. Blacks in Reconstruction also needed more government aid. According to National Archives, after the Civil War, there were about 179,000 African Americans who had served in the war, 30,000 of which had died from infection or disease. During the war Blacks would be paid $10, while whites would be paid $13. After the war and freeing of slaves, African Americans would still have to wait another century until they would be look on as truly equal. Although modern veterans are in a much better situation than the black’s returning from war, both still needed more legal rights to give them more recognition and support.

In the Iraqi War, 991 soldiers required amputation.

Veterans and blacks during Reconstruction differ because of the issues they have faced; Veterans are beset with difficulty coming back from combat, where blacks during Reconstruction face discrimination. Caroline Gamon of the New York Times wrote that after thousands of Iraqi discharges soldiers were left, “Without access to health care and other benefits that are granted to service members who leave the armed forces with honorable discharges” (A Lifetime for Troubled Veterans, Paragraph 1). This contrasts with the situation African Americans were in after the civil war. After hundreds of thousands of African Americans fought to gain representation rights, they were then faced with the tough reality that Southerners would still view blacks as lesser and they would segregate through the Black Codes. “Racism was still a potent force in both South and North, and Republicans became more conservative and less egalitarian as the decade continued. In 1874–after an economic depression plunged much of the South into poverty–the Democratic Party won control of the House of Representatives for the first time since the Civil War” (, Reconstruction Comes to an End). Indubitably, the discrimination blacks faced vastly differs from the PTSD and government inequality Veterans have experienced.

"My experience in Iraq made me realize, and during the recovery, that I could have died. And I just had to do more with my life." -- Tammy Duckworth

How to Help

Today the best way to help Veterans is to get involved with government organizations like the American Legion, United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and/or AMVETS. There are many ways to prevent Veterans from becoming homeless or assist with PTSD. Visiting a local Veteran Hospital, helping a Military family, delivering care packages through an organization called MilServe, or helping a Veteran tell their military story through the Veteran’s History Project can all help Veterans be repaid for their service to America (, page 2). It is also possible to volunteer to drive Veterans or their family members to Veteran hospitals through the Department of Veteran Affairs. The VA offers opportunities to help fly Veterans to war memorials so that they can be rightfully honored. In conclusion, there are many ways to give back to the 23 million vets who have sacrificed so much to preserve our American rights.

Works Cited

"11 Facts About Veterans." | Volunteer for Social Change., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

NCHV. "National Coalition for Homeless Veterans." National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. NCHV, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

NIH. "NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine." Feature: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD: A Growing Epidemic / Neuroscience and PTSD Treatments. NIH, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

"African Americans In The Civil War." HistoryNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

Gamon, Caroline. "A Lifeline for Troubled Veterans." The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 Mar. 2017. Web. 22 Mar. 2017. Staff. "Reconstruction." A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

"10 Ways to Support and Honor Veterans." 10 Ways to Support and Honor Veterans | N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

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