WASHINGTON – The folks at Time Magazine’s Battleland blog have posted a not-so-cheery pre-holiday reminder titled “Vets: Homeless for Thanksgiving.” Elspeth Ritchie previously served as director of behavioral health for the Office of the Army Surgeon General and today works as chief clinical offer for the District of Columbia's Department of Mental Health. She writes that the American public needs to be reminded of the challenges facing veterans this holiday, both economically and psychologically.
How can we stop our Soldiers and other service members from descending from their proud uniforms to the homeless with their plastic bags outside the Greyhound Bus Station? Remember, only about half of recent vets go to the VA. This number is higher than ever before. But it still means that at least half get there care through other means. Or get no care. Or end up on the streets.
There are veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, celebrating Thanksgiving today on the streets. As you prepare to feast, don't forget to thank them. And don't forget to help, if you can.