Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering Our Veterans

And Looking for Peace...

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PD Editorial: Honoring vets

Remembering those in military service — now and long ago

CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat

Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 5:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 5:43 p.m.


The 90th observance of Veterans Day — previously known as Armistice Day — finds the nation confronting a number of troubling issues about the security of those in uniform.

Foremost is whether soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood, Texas were needlessly put in harm’s way — in the path of an unstable Army psychologist with ties to a radical cleric in Yemen. Given the information available at the time, we’re at a loss to understand why federal authorities were willing to drop an investigation last year of Nadal Malik Hasan, the man suspected of killing 13 people during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Americans also wait to see how President Barack Obama will respond to appeals for another 40,000 troops in Afghanistan.

But Veterans Day is primarily a time to honor those who already have served this country. And there, too, many concerns arise.

At one time, veterans responded to the call to lead our nation in war and/or the preservation of peace. Today, veterans lead the nation in homelessness, depression and areas such as suicides.

As Staff Writer Jeremy Hay reported on Tuesday, Sonoma County is home to roughly 35,000 veterans. Of those, at least 400 are homeless — a number equal to about 12 percent of the county’s homeless population. Across the nation, are an estimated 131,000 veterans are sleeping on the streets and in cars. Many of these veterans have been hit hard by the downturn in the economy.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is responding to this rising need by committing $3.2 billion over the next five years to helping get veterans off the street. Congress is working on boosting the number of housing vouchers available to help vets get into stable housing.

Locals can honor those who have served this country today by writing to their congressional representatives to support these meaningful measures. They also can attend one of a number of local events honoring Veterans Day, including a flag-raising at the Veterans Memorial at Santa Rosa City Hall at 10:30 a.m. and the Petaluma Veterans Parade at 1 p.m.

The public can do little to ensure the safety of soldiers in foreign lands. But we can do much better as a nation in keeping them out of harm’s way here at home — now and long after they’ve completed their service.

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.