Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Urge creation of programs that prevent drug addiction and alcoholism amongst veterans
More than 2.2 million United States men and women have served in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. With nearly 7,000 members of the military deceased and more than 52,000 wounded in action, the all-volunteer force has experienced more deployments for longer periods of time than any other military force in United States history. While advancements in technology and emergency care have saved a record number of combat veterans from severe injuries, like amputations and burns, many veterans are suffering from “invisible wounds,” such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and chronic pain. To treat these disorders and injuries, doctors have been prescribing medications, primarily opioids, at alarming rates. And, as a result, drug dependency, coupled with longstanding alcoholism problems, is responsible for 22 veteran suicides a day.
The homelessness epidemic, lack of resources to mental health treatment, and limited Veterans Affairs programs are partly to blame, as more than one million US veterans take prescription drugs chronically, or have taken them for more than 90 consecutive days. With only 40 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the care of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the statistic begs the question: where are the other 60 percent of Army veterans? And, are they receiving proper care? A report by Human Rights Watch chronicles the struggles of veterans from as far back as the Gulf War to present day, which include issues with severe mental health problems like depression, schizophrenia, and PTSD, to being denied access to beneficial programs due to dishonorable discharge, and, most importantly, lack of access to housing, which is the root cause of many veteran pitfalls.
Although the United States Department of Veterans Affairs was designed to help vets successfully transition back into civilian life, it is estimated that 1.3 million veterans have no health insurance, and no stable home. As a result, many vets return from having endured extreme trauma and harrowing ordeals, only to end up homeless, drug addicted and ultimately forgotten. More needs to be done to address this epidemic of veterans suffering in silence, like the expansion of drug-dependence treatment, housing needs to the chronically homeless, and psychiatric care.
With all that veterans have done to serve and protect America, they deserve to be treated with honor and respect; they deserve access to basic needs like shelter and efficient programs designed to address their special needs. Sign the petition below to support the creation of effective programs to prevent drug addiction and alcoholism amongst US veterans.
Dear President Obama,
Every day approximately 22 veterans commit suicide, and drug or alcohol is involved in one out of every three Army suicides. This issue has taken on sustained prevalence due in part to the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The all-volunteer force is one of the most drug addicted, alcohol dependent, and severely stressed forces in United States history, with more than 1.3 million vets without health insurance, stable housing or access to much needed programs.
More needs to be done to address this epidemic. Soldiers protect our country, encourage national security and give us the opportunity to lead normal, civilian lives. After enduring the traumas and hardships of war, these veterans have witnessed unthinkable evil and it is ignorant to think that they can return to American soil unscathed, and capable of transitioning back into civilian life.
I urge you to reform the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to include broader access to beneficial programs and help to prevent addiction, homelessness, and alcoholism amongst our country’s veterans.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: soldiersmediacenter via everystockphoto