On a day reserved for honoring the nation’s veterans, demonstrators from the Occupy movement march on a tour of veterans’ memorials. Michael Patterson, an Iraq war veteran reflects on US military policy and the state of US’ veterans.
US-led conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have cost the US taxpayer an estimated 3 trillion dollars. More than 6-thousand three hundred service members have been killed.
Back in the US, away from the war zone challenges continue.
According to the Bureau of labor statistics, unemployment for veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan is higher than the national average. Their rate of unemployment is rated at about 12 percent vs. the 9 percent nationwide average. But that only tells half the story.
While the job market is slowly improving for most Americans, it is moving in the opposite direction for Persian Gulf War II vets. The youngest of veterans, aged 18 to 24, had a 30 percent jobless rate in October, way up from 18 percent a year earlier.
Newly proposed legislation to help veterans is expected to pass. This week, the Senate approved legislation as a small part of President Obama’s jobs bill, which is designed to help unemployed veterans and companies doing business with the government.
But the struggle for US troops and veterans will continue even after the wars wind down. They face the battle living in a country with a struggling economy and rising poverty at home. And limited options for veterans.