While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are drawing down, some servicemen and women won’t be settling back into civilian life. They are among the thousands who gave their lives for our nation during those wars.
Today’s young people face an array of societal pressures. The dissolution of the traditional American family, illegal drug use, TV shows and movies filled with obscenities and indecencies. There is an alarming increase in bullying, aided by the spread of smart phones and social media.
To those who have sworn with their lives to protect America against enemies near and far, national security is a deeply held value. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 exposed this nation’s vulnerabilities and magnified the importance of this value - not only for military veterans, but for all Americans.
At the conclusion of World War I, U.S. veterans returned home to parades but little else.
There was no comprehensive medical care, disability compensation, vocational training, effective treatment for “shell shock” or brain injuries, or pensions for veterans’ survivors.
And there was no national organization dedicated to helping war heroes.
The concerns of female veterans have always been a high priority for The American Legion. And now that women are forced into combat roles in areas that lack clearly defined battle lines, they are returning home with the same injuries and wounds as male veterans - yet they have unique concerns about how the existing VA health-care system is adapting to their needs.
Servicemen and women delay career advancements and college educations to serve our country. Often those same men and women return to civilian life as veterans with physical disabilities or personal problems and face daunting transitions back to the workforce or higher education. The American Legion’s Economic Division, a major part of the Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation pillar, works to improve the civilian lives of veterans in numerous ways.
For more than 90 years, the Legion has been the nation’s leading advocate for proper health care and earned benefits for America’s veterans. The Legion was instrumental in creating the Veterans Administration in 1930, and an ardent supporter of its rise to Cabinet status when it became the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 1989. As the relationship between VA and veterans evolves, the Legion will help VA meet its critical mission.