I have made all these sins/ mistakes in my life-- and was 'corrected' by the Lord, in the Winter of 1994-95and learned this hard lesson. At that time I only had two friends: God, and the VA. God was patient with me and merciful. The VA had to be cornered, taken to task and squeezed. Below is a good read just about this time of the year -- "Thanksgiving." Remember the Vet !! Most people in the U.S don't have enough below their belt to join, take the discipline, and fight for our Freedom.
Los Angeles Times November 25, 2008 Pg. 21
Give Back To Vets Who Have Given Their All
By Mike Mullen
The Joint Chiefs chairman urges Americans to show gratitude to those who
have sacrificed so much.
During a recent visit to the veterans hospital in Los Angeles, I ran
across a young man fresh out of the Army. He had fought in Afghanistan
and was recovering from some of his wounds. He was also homeless and,
quite frankly, a little frustrated by what he saw as cumbersome and
inefficient layers of bureaucracy between the departments of Defense and
It had taken weeks to finish his separation paperwork, months to get his
disability rating (which determines his compensation), and it will
likely take years before he can be completely self-sufficient. Simple
things like holding down a job and owning a home seem anything but
simple to him right now.
"I gave my country 100%," he said. "All I ask for is 100% in return."
Maybe I'm biased, but that doesn't seem like too much to ask.
It's not too much to ask that we bind the wounds of war. And we are.
More than 35,000 troops have been injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom and
Operation Enduring Freedom, many of whom might have died had it not been
for the excellent medical care they received at field and military and
veterans hospitals all over the world.
But I worry a lot about the wounds we don't see, the ones we don't yet
fully understand. Recent studies suggest that nearly 20% of Iraq and
Afghanistan veterans have incurred traumatic brain injury, and a like
number suffer from post-traumatic stress. Many have both. And it doesn't
help that there is still a stigma attached to mental health problems.
We have to move past that. We have to change our culture. Leaders at all
levels need to step forward and seek for themselves and their people the
counseling they all deserve.
Asking for help is not asking for too much.
It's also not too much to ask that we look after the families of the
fallen. Not everyone makes it home from war. For each of the more than
4,800 servicemen and women who have been killed since 9/11, there are
mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and children who
suffer unspeakable loss. These families, too, have sacrificed so much --
everything really -- and we can't forget our obligation to stand by them
for the rest of their lives.
The rest of their lives. That's a long time. But that's the debt we
incur -- to help our veterans and their families move on with the rest
of their lives.
The truth is that they want the same things every other American wants.
They want to own their own homes, find good jobs, send their children to
During that same trip to Los Angeles, I spent some time at a facility
called New Directions. The staff there offers a wide variety of services
for homeless veterans, including job training and placement, parenting
and money management classes, legal and financial assistance, counseling
and remedial education.
Residents leave the program with a job, housing, a savings account,
computer skills, renewed self-confidence and the support of mentors and
The need is real. California has the largest population of homeless
veterans in the nation, nearly 50,000 -- about 13,000 are in Los
Angeles. And some experts believe we are producing homeless vets faster
than we ever have. Programs like those at New Directions are a good
start for these men and women, as are the Labor Department's "Hire Vets
First," the VA's "Stand Down" counseling and assistance events, and
numerous other grass-roots efforts. But so much more needs to be done.
As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving -- with hundreds of thousands
of troops still deployed around the world and many others preparing to
leave the service -- we need to remember that important point.
We live in a country that doesn't force our young men and women to pick
up arms and go fight. We don't have to. They do it willingly, even
eagerly. Not because they enjoy danger or killing or sacrifice, but
rather in spite of those things. They serve and they work so hard so
that someday -- maybe -- our children and grandchildren might not have
All they want in return is our gratitude, 100% of it. It's not too much
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.