As we take time this week to pay tribute to the millions of heroes who have put their lives on the line for our country, we must remember that we owe our veterans more than our gratitude. We must work to ensure that they receive the benefits they deserve.
Too many veterans face challenges related to healthcare, housing, and employment. Veterans transitioning from time in service to civilian life face barriers that can result in unemployment, in inadequate healthcare, and, tragically, in homelessness.
When servicemembers return home, they must have the educational and the employment opportunities they need not only to survive, but to thrive. That is why Congress must continue to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure that veterans, servicemembers, and their qualifying dependents have every opportunity to take advantage of the educational benefits they have earned.
Unfortunately, too many veterans also have trouble gaining access to healthcare and securing a safe, stable place to live.
Hundreds of thousands of veterans struggle with so-called “invisible injuries” — nearly 300,000 have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), and 300,000 have faced Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).
Earlier this year we passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which is an important first step to helping these veterans. It is our duty to increase veterans’ access to quality mental health care. Clay Hunt will help ensure that those who put their lives on the line for us have a lifeline of their own when they return home.
And it is our duty to ensure that veterans have safe homes to call their own. However, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), nearly 50,000 veterans were homeless during a survey conducted on a single night in January 2014. That is 50,000 too many.
Fortunately, increased federal investments and improved services have made progress toward ending the serious problem of veterans’ homelessness. Since 2010, homelessness among veterans has declined 33 percent.
In a nation blessed with abundant resources and economic strength, no one who has already sacrificed so much for our country should lack access to affordable housing. Veterans Service Organizations and nonprofit groups across Ohio are stepping up to address this injustice, but more needs to be done. That’s why I joined my colleagues in introducing the Veteran Housing Stability Act of 2015, which would make meaningful improvements to services for homeless veterans, and give more veterans access to permanent housing opportunities.
I am proud to work to ensure that Ohio remains a leader in serving those who served us. Supporting veterans and their families is a top priority for my office.
My staff and I remain ready to assist veterans, their families, and their survivors access health care and disability benefits as well as education and employment benefits support. We can also assist with other actions, such as discharge reviews and awards replacement. If you or someone you know needs any assistance, please contact my office toll-free at 1-888-896-OHIO (6446) or visit my website.
Sherrod Brown is a U.S. Senator for the state of Ohio.