Memorial Day

In honor of the brave servicemembers we have lost

In Honor of the Brave Servicemembers We Have Lost

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. And while for many this weekend is a time for relaxation, it is also a time for remembrance. First and foremost, Memorial Day is about honoring the brave servicemen and women who are no longer with us. So before you head off for the long weekend, take a moment to pay tribute to the lives we have lost. But as we honor those men and women, there are also important steps we can take to improve the lives of the nearly 22 million veterans currently living in the United States. An issue brief from the Center for American Progress outlines the challenges our veterans face. Here are just a few:

Unemployment: The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 6.9 percent as of April 2015, well above the national unemployment rate of 5.4 percent. In 2013, 24.3 percent of male veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 years old were unemployed.

Suicide and Mental Health Challenges: There were 255 deaths by suicide in the active military duty in 2013 alone. The VA’s suicide outreach program and other mental health services have had a huge impact, with suicide rates for male veterans in the VA health system dropping by around 30 percent.

Homelessness: Almost 50,000 veterans were homeless as of January 2014, and in 2013, veterans made up 12 percent of all homeless adults in the United States.

Sexual Trauma: Both male and female service members have experienced sexual trauma—4,113 service members reported experiencing sexual assault during their service.

Addiction. More than one quarter of Army soldiers meet the criteria for alcohol abuse in the months after returning from Iraq. In 2010 alone about 788,000 veterans were diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder at a VA medical center.

You can help improve the lives of millions of veterans who risked their lives for us. Below is a list of organizations dedicated to helping military veterans and their families.

BOTTOM LINE: On Memorial Day, and every day, we should honor those who lost their lives serving our country. And we owe it to the millions of others who have served to help improve their lives.

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