Dear Future President,
My name is Kayla and I go to Washington County Technical High School in Hagerstown, Maryland. I am sixteen years old and although I may not pay very much attention to political debates or read the newspaper, I have my opinions on many very important political issues. I know that you are very busy dealing with becoming the new president, and I congratulate you on your success, but I would like to take some of your time to talk to you about a political issue that is very important to me. The issue I am writing to you about is Veteran’s Benefits. In my research on this issue I have found that veterans are not getting the benefits and help that they need and deserve.
The suicide rates for veterans have risen to a shocking number of 8,800 suicides a year in the United States alone (that is 22 percent of the overall 40,000 suicides). There are 1,300 hundred suicides, suicide attempts, and thoughts of suicide reported to the Veteran’s Association each month. Many of these suicides are the cause of untreated mental illnesses or lack of support from the health care system. This being said, 60 percent of these suicides are among patients of Veteran’s Affairs healthcare that have known mental disorders, this shows how well the health care system is helping them out. Obviously, it is not very much, and there should be something done to help. (www.blogs.va.gov)
Two recurring mental illnesses in veterans are PTSD and Paranoia, which are both very sensitive and dangerous disorders. Many veterans came home and suffered the illness PTSD, which is a disorder that causes nightmares, flashbacks, and severe anxiety which can be triggered by anything. PTSD usually also leads to Paranoia, a disorder in which a person has severe anxiety about being followed, watched, and even people being jealous of them. Both of these illnesses usually lead to suicide because the person either cannot receive help or they just cannot handle the illness any longer. This suicidal streak comes from the veterans not having any help from the healthcare system.
Something else that I have found in my research that I thought was interesting was that the healthcare system for veterans is reportedly overwhelmed and failing. In May of 2014 President Obama ordered a review of the system due to the increasing of reports of delayed treatments and medical appointments as well as an increasing amount of veterans dying on the waiting list for these treatments. According to research done by the Veteran’s Affairs health system, the veterans' healthcare system had many faults and problems. As of June 23rd, a government arm, the independent Office of Special Counsel, had over 50 pending cases that involved alleged threats to patient health and safety. If this healthcare system is this bad, should it even be in existence? I believe that it should be fixed so that it provides more adequate healthcare services to our veterans.
The last point I would like to make is that many veterans are unable to get a job to support themselves. Along with this, many veterans are homeless; about 49,933 veterans are homeless, according to a study done in January of 2014. Homeless veterans tend to be male, single, live in a city, and have some type of mental illness/disorder, according to www.endhomelessness.org. The amount of homeless veterans has decreased since 2009, but there is still too large of a population of homeless veterans. Many of these veterans end up committing suicide or dying due to the weather, malnutrition, or an untreated illness.
I believe that a possible solution to this would be to raise awareness to the citizens of the United States. You could do this by talking about it during speeches and at benefits. You could broadcast it on television, online, or even in the newspaper. I believe a great way to fix this would be to create shelters for the homeless veterans specifically, provide places for them to go and get help, and create a healthcare system that actually provides the things they need. There doesn’t need to be a cure for PTSD, or even Paranoia, just a place that they can go and get help without being left to die waiting to see a doctor. There are many solutions to the many problems that come along with veterans benefits not being used by the intended recipients, and the only thing we have to do to fix it is to actually put one of them into order and help the people that fought for us.
Overall, I believe that the system should be fixed so that veterans have more benefits and support from the government and society. The increasing amount of veteran suicides is becoming hard to deal with and the amount of homeless veterans is becoming upsetting. The news has started to exploit these things, blaming them on the government, when really it is the healthcare and benefits systems that are failing them. I have family members that were veterans and I would love to see them helped, not just because I see my family members struggle, but because to walk down the street and see the sick, homeless veterans lying on the sidewalk makes me wonder what the system is doing. I hope that something can be done about this to make it better for the veterans that gave their lives to the American society, protecting it, helping it, and providing a life of freedom for the people that make up the society. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to look at my letter and think about what I have written to you. Thank you.