The Men and Women in Our Military and Our Veterans Deserve Better from Us

This is the twentieth Blog in a weekly series regarding the state of leadership in America. We are on the verge of a national disgrace regarding how we have been treating our men and women in uniform and our veterans. The tip of this iceberg is the completely unacceptable wait time for our veterans to have their service connected disabilities approved. The average wait time for a veteran to receive disability benefits is 273 days and 245,000 vets waited a year or more to get their benefits. These intolerable wait times have most certainly contributed to the despair felt by the current 62,600 homeless veterans and they were likely a factor in the 349 suicides of veterans in 2012 alone. Vets living on the streets and losing their homes because they do not have a source of income is shameful. We sent them to the Iraq and Afghan wars that now seem to have gone on forever. We ordered them back and back again on multiple deployments. The unbelievable psychological stress that was caused by making it home alive from one tour of duty, only to be told to prepare to go back into a combat environment yet again, cannot be measured. The emotional toll on the military members and their families can never be appreciated unless you experienced it yourself. With an estimated 300,000 men and women expected to leave the military each of the next four years, the transition to civilian life, readjustment to family, and the need for employment will multiply the problems faced by our military families and veterans. While our outstanding military medical personnel have saved more lives than ever before from combat related injuries, the number of severely wounded soldiers who have lost one or more limbs has added to the trauma and human costs of these wars. We need to provide counseling immediately to help these men and women recover physically and mentally from such life-altering wounds. For these military members the initial joy of being alive and having made it home will quickly be overcome by the reality of having lost limbs and of questioning their value to themselves and their families. I cannot even imagine the feeling of despair they experienced when they realized what happened to them. I do know that it is imperative that they be fitted with modern prosthetics to get them up and moving as fast as possible, and start turning that despair into hope and a realization that they can overcome the loss of a limb or limbs. Our leadership in Congress and the White House must authorize the money needed and provide the on-going personal attention to these issues to ensure that our military members and veterans get the care they’ve earned. We can never repay them for their courage and loyalty, but we must take care of them physically and mentally so that they can move forward with their lives and families. Furthermore, the business community must be a strong partner and aggressively recruit and train our veterans for jobs as the military downsizes. Too often the soldiers who fight the battles become a mere statistic, a data point on a chart, an empty campaign promise, and then are quickly forgotten as the nation moves on with the desire to turn the page and focus on new issues. We need leaders who recognize the scope of this situation and who are committed to ensuring that no soldier, no veteran is left behind.

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This entry was posted in Business, Government, Leadership, Leadership DNA, Management, Paul Okum, Politics, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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