Eternally grateful for your service

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Most of us agree that throwing money at a problem won’t necessarily solve it. But figuring out priorities in spending finite dollars is essential to solving the most important problems.

And in this grand nation of ours, we have a problem that should be at the top of our country’s priority list: Taking care of the men and women who risked their lives for the rest of us.

Today is Veterans Day, which is as good a time as any to assess whether we’re providing genuine service or lip service to those who have served us and will serve us militarily in the future. In our view, we’re doing a poor job of reciprocating.

According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research Center, it’s logical to assume that many veterans aren’t getting the care and benefits they deserve because Congress doesn’t understand the issues these veterans confront daily.

In 1975, 81 percent of U.S. senators had military experience. The peak for House members was 1967, when 75 percent of all U.S. representatives were veterans.

As of 2017, only 20 percent of senators and 19 percent of representatives had prior military service.

Meantime, the percentage of Americans who have served in the military is shrinking as well. According to Pew Research in 2016, 7 percent of U.S. adults were veterans, down from 18 percent in 1980. Active duty of course also dropped: from 3.5 million in 1968 to 1.3 million in 2016. Keep in mind that the draft was in effect until 1973, where today the military is entirely volunteer.

What we find encouraging is that the vast majority of Americans polled believe as we do that veterans’ services should be a much higher government priority. In a Pew survey, 75 percent said that if they were in charge of the federal budget, they’d increase spending for veterans’ benefits and services. Clearly we need more veterans and supporters of veteran issues in charge. Maybe then tragedies like the California mass shooting by a Marine with PTSD would not happen.

In the meantime, let’s forget numbers for the moment and think only about human beings. We’re talking about those who gave so much so we could continue our way of life. We’re also talking about the family members of veterans who have suffered immeasurably because of the noble sacrifices their spouses and children in the military have made.

Thank you one and all. You’ve earned rewards that we hope someday soon will be delivered.

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