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Memorial Day in the US: Veterans Benefits Essay

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Updated: Jun 20th, 2020

The yearly celebrations of the Memorial Day in the U.S are full of generous praises directed at military personnel who have died in service. The Memorial Day is one of the many events and platforms used by politicians, corporations and members of the public to express their eagerness to support the men and women who have served in the U.S Armed Forces. Lengthy speeches on the plans to assist veterans by giving them access to quality medical care, rehabilitation and compensation for their service to the country are obvious every time American soldiers, dead or alive, arrive home.

An analysis of the history of America’s treatment of war veterans, since the American Revolution, demonstrates a poor job in terms of caring for veterans. Although America spends huge sums of money in erecting monuments for the men and women who have died in service of the country, the country has done little to honor the military personnel who return home. The federal government continues to neglect the veterans in terms of providing comprehensive health insurance, medical treatment, housing aid and other essential supportive services for war veterans.

U.S war veterans constitute a significant percentage of Americans living in extremely deplorable conditions. A significant percentage of the about 23 million veterans who served in the Second World War, Vietnam, Korea, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan lack meaningful employment, suffer maltreatment in various medical facilities and are victims of problems such as PSTD, depression, suicidal tendencies and homelessness.

For example, a 2010 report from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development illustrates that war veterans constitute a third of America’s homeless population despite the fact they account for less than 8 percent of America’s total population. In 2009, war veterans represented about 16 percent of American adults who were homeless on a single night. A significant percentage of homeless veterans counted in a single night in 2009 lived in emergency shelters, abandoned buildings, on the streets or other habitats unsuitable for humans (Schnurr 729).

A report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness illustrate that about 90,000 to 468,000 veterans face the risk of homelessness. The report attributes the susceptibility of veterans to homelessness to the fact that most live below the poverty level and spend more than half of their income on rent. The lack of robust and well-funded support systems is the main cause of the rising cases of homelessness amongst veterans in America. Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates the high unemployment rate, about 8 percent as of 2012, for men and women who have served in the U.S military.

About 15 percent of the veterans cite service-related disabilities as the main hurdle to employment. The failure by the Congress to establish laws that safeguard the housing rights of the men and women who have made sacrifices for their country is an illustration of the disregard for U.S war veterans. The lack of efficient federal funding to ensure the affordability of housing amongst veterans has exposed war veterans to the high cost of housing in America. For example, veterans can only benefit from guarantees on home mortgage loans by federal government.

Institutions such as the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), which should be in the frontline in protecting the welfare of war veterans, have come under criticism due to the misdiagnosis and maltreatment of veterans suffering from PSTD. The department has caused a significant number of veterans to lose on disability pay and medical benefits. For example, the dismissal of more than 23,000 veterans on grounds that they suffered personality disorders rather than PSTD aroused suspicion that the military was keen on saving money in disability payouts and lifetime medical care for veterans affected by PSTD (Glantz 105).

The lack of supportive policies to ensure that U.S veterans access health insurance and medical treatment in VA facilities has led to the failure by the U.S government in providing the excellent patient care and veteran benefits American politicians talk about in events such as the Memorial Day. A 2005 study on the state of health insurance coverage in the U.S military demonstrates that most military veterans lack comprehensive health insurance. The study used the 2004 Current Population report and the 2002 National Health Interview survey to examine the number of uninsured veterans. About 1.7 million veterans lacked health insurance.

Similarly, the study established that the number of uninsured nonelderly veterans increase by about 2 percent from 2000 to 2003 (Woolhandler et al. 315). The effects of the lack of comprehensive health insurance for veterans is evident by the fact that about 4 million members of veterans’ households lacked health insurance by 2003 and could not access medical care in VA facilities. The fact that about 682,000 Vietnam War veterans lacked health insurance despite the claim that Medicare covered all veterans from the Korean War and the Second World War illustrates the poor performance by the relevant authorities in terms of caring for war veterans.

A respected broadcasting corporation, CNN, reported that about 40 veterans had died in 2014 waiting to access medical care from Phoenix VA clinics. An investigation revealed secret waiting lists created to hide the long waits at the VA clinics. Veterans seeking treatment at the clinics had to wait for a minimum of 90 days to get a medical appointment rather than the recommended 15 days (Bronstein et al. par. 1). Further investigation into the VA scandal revealed that some psychiatric patients had not received comprehensive evaluation seven to eight years after admission. A significant number of war veterans, especially the uninsured, have expressed their frustrations regarding access to medical care, which predisposes them and their families to substandard lifestyles.


An analysis of the socioeconomic status of the U.S war veterans demonstrates the failure to recognize the invaluable sacrifice by the men and women who have served in the U.S military. It is a shame that the U.S can spend more than 1.2 trillion dollars in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but deny its military personnel access to essentials such as comprehensive medical care and proper housing.

The case of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hostility towards war veterans and the profiling of military personnel to identify veterans who are extremists or sources of domestic terrorist threats demonstrates America’s disregard for its war veterans. The adoption of programs to portray war veterans as potential threats to Americans rather than addressing the psychiatric problems afflicting the veterans is a clear demonstration of the fact that the U.S has refused to acknowledge the sacrifice by millions of military personnel in protecting the sovereignty of their country and freedoms of fellow citizens.

Works Cited

Bronstein, Scott, Curt Devine, and Jessica Jimenez. A Fatal Wait: Veterans Languish and Die on a VA Hospital’s Secret List. 2014. Web.

Glantz, Aaron. The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle against America’s Veterans. Berkeley: U of California, 2009. Print.

Schnurr, Paula, Carole Lunney, Michelle Bovin, and Brian Marx. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Quality of Life: Extension of Findings to Veterans of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Clinical Psychology Review 29.8 (2009): 727-35. Print.

Woolhandler, Steffie, David Himmelstein, Ronald Distajo, Karen Lasser, Danny Mccormick, David Bor, and Sidney Wolfe. “America’s Neglected Veterans: 1.7 Million Who Served Have No Health Coverage.” International Journal of Health Services 35.2 (2005): 313-23. Print.

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