Serve those who sacrificed for us

It seems as though after the wars are over the real fight begins.

Americans are so mindful of the ones who give their lives for this country after they have already died. Memorial Day is revered nationwide to remember the fallen soldiers throughout our seemingly endless history of battles.

For those still with us, not much seems to be done. Politicians still see veterans as a photo-op rather than a group of people in need of significant aid and major legislation.

It’s a heartbreaking truth more citizens need to be made aware of.

Veterans Day is a national observance of the sacrifices of Americans who have served us in various branches of the military.

Nearly 30 percent of Vietnam veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of battle.  Approximately 15 percent of veterans from the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars are burdened with mental health issues ranging from PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks.

The effects of PTSD are not apparent to those who don’t see the night sweats, nightmares, insomnia, mood swings and hyper awareness that come from being in a combat zone.

While there are many men and women who return home and are able to assimilate back into society. There are many veterans who return with debilitating physical and mental ailments and left to fend for themselves.

These mental and physical disorders often result in veterans being discharged less than honorably and denied the benefits that would assist in their transition back to civilian life.

It has only been in recent years that the Veterans Administration has acknowledged long-term mental disorders like PTSD, as legitimate medical disabilities for soldiers

The red tape that these service men and women go through to get their benefits and access to doctors, in essence can turn proud soldiers into beggars to their own government.

This demoralizing process not only affects the vets, but their loved ones as well.

The burden of fighting wars is falling on fewer shoulders and civilians are becoming increasingly unaware of the struggle that returning veterans may face once they return from combat situations.

Less than 1 percent of Americans have served in the post 9/11-era military, compared to the 9 percent who were enlisted at the height of World War II.

With a lack of political accountability and public ignorance to the mental and physical toll veterans may face, it is little wonder that they may feel isolated in their own communities.

During the recent government shutdown, the Citrus College Veterans Center stepped up and came to the aid of the student veterans whose checks were delayed.

They along with Young Americans for Liberty and student trustee Mariana Vega sponsored an emergency food drive and gas card donation drive.

This gesture on behalf of student veterans is a truly commendable act of compassion that needs to be amplified throughout communities nationwide.

The Salute to Veterans that is set to take place in the Campus Center Mall on Nov. 7 is an annual event and long held tradition on campus for students and members of the community to pay respect to men and women of the armed forces.

Being a veteran in America is not an easy road for the ones who need help the most. They fight our wars and come home to see their personal battles lost to bureaucracy and apathy.

Soldiers and their families have made a great commitment and  the hardest sacrifice to this country.

The fighting spirit and inspiring courage of our veterans and families cannot be broken by neglect or by lack of accountability; those traits come from the heart and show tremendous character.

Though not all veterans have seen war, a common bond they share is their pledge to defend this nation.  All they have asked in return is to be taken care of by the very government who sent them into harm’s way.

No government law can make citizens care, true reform for veterans must come from the community, and it starts with recognizing and respecting their sacrifice.