While tributes across the nation today will honor past and present members of our armed forces, it is what we do the other 364 days of the year that is the true measure of our commitment to the men and women of our military.
Scandals in recent years have tarnished the Veterans Administration. Men and women who served honorably all too often still find it difficult to get the quality care they need. And veterans returning from war zones struggle to find work to support themselves or their families.
In April, the Veterans Affairs Department said 22 veterans a day commit suicide. Long waiting periods for care have been well-documented. In Arizona, workers in a VA hospital were accused of falsifying records to cover up long delays in which veterans waited for appointments.
In response to the problem, Congress approved $10 billion over three years to help pay for private doctors or other health professionals and to expand staff at VA facilities. It remains to be seen whether the measures will alleviate the problem. In reality, veterans should be able to go to any medical provider to get the help they need. Waiting weeks or months for care is not acceptable.
Veterans also continue to struggle to find employment. The sluggish economy doesn't help, but according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the percentage of veterans looking for work has declined some, it still is higher than the national rate of unemployment.
Some businesses are reaching out to veterans, and programs have been put in place to help veterans find jobs, but many still fall between the cracks.
In hiring veterans, businesses get quality workers who in many cases have worked with sophisticated equipment, served as leaders and have a strong commitment and work ethic. Organizations such as Hire Heroes USA have sprung up across the country which work to match veterans with jobs. They should be the first stop for any business that is looking to add to its workforce.
We've come a long way in recent years in increasing our help to and support of veterans. But as we pause today to remember the sacrifices of the men and women of our armed forces, we need to keep focused on the fact that our mission is not complete. We must continue our efforts to ensure that all our veterans receive the help and care they need.