Today is a day that is important to all of us; it is a day we show our appreciation for our veterans. My father served in the Army for the first 5 years of my life. His service took us to many places, including even Germany, which helped me realize the incredible sacrifices so many families make for our country. Here in Utah’s 1st Congressional District, we have a special relationship with the armed forces: Hill Air Force Base. They support current military and veterans, and are a big part of our Northern Utah economy.
I hope you will thank a veteran for their service on this special day. However, we all need to do more than just say thank you. We need to show our appreciation for the time and sacrifices every single veteran has made. The US’s current treatment of veterans is insufficient. We have over 1.5 million veterans living below the poverty line. According to the National Veterans Foundation, “The veteran poverty rate for vets between 18 and 34 years old is higher than all other age groups. This group, of course, means that the veterans of the Gulf War and Afghanistan have higher poverty rates than other veterans” (1). We have to do more to build pathways to success for our veterans after they complete their service.
All of those veterans are at risk of homelessness because of their poverty level. Currently, there are roughly 40,000 veterans who are homeless, making up 11% of the national homelessness population. There are many reasons why our veterans are at a high risk of becoming homeless. The US lacks affordable housing, a living wage, and access to healthcare, and these issues affect veterans as much as anyone. But when you add in factors such as PTSD, substance abuse and lack of social support and community, it makes homelessness much more likely (2). A progressive agenda that focuses on providing solutions to these issues is a veteran’s agenda.
My campaign is focused on improving the lives of every American, including those of veterans. The issues I am running on, such as Fair Pay for Fair Work, Healthcare as a Human Right, and Making College Tuition-Free can all have a tremendous impact in changing the lives of those who have served our country. Addressing these issues can help us reduce future poverty and homelessness for our veterans, as well as lift veterans who are currently homeless out of poverty.
Today, we remember the sacrifices of over 18 million Americans who have served in all branches of our military. From the Cheek for Utah campaign: Thank you to all our veterans for everything that you and your families have endured for our country. We need to all stand up and demand better for our veterans. Together, we can and must improve the lives and opportunities of those who have served.