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Politicians Thank Veterans For Their Service, Then Cut Programs To Feed Them

Hometown heroes volunteered and served lunch at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans May 5, 2010.  Photo Credit Cpl. Priscilla Sneden (USMC)

Hometown heroes volunteered and served lunch at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans May 5, 2010. Photo Credit Cpl. Priscilla Sneden (USMC)

This weekend we celebrate Veterans Day.  Veterans Day is the day when we all stop and thank the brave men and women, who stepped up to serve our country.  These men and women risked their lives to protect our freedom, and our way of life.  I would personally like to thank every veteran who chose to serve our country.

I am not the only one who is thanking veterans this weekend.  “Our veterans represent the very best of America,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster.  “Today, and every day, we express our gratitude for the sacrifices they’ve made, for the extraordinary example they’ve set, and for everything they’ve done to keep our country safe, prosperous, and free.

Last year Speaker John Boehner released a video message that said:

Saying ‘thank you’ is important, but there’s always more that we the people can do for those whose sacrifices preserved the heritage of freedom.

While he is saying ‘thank you’ to veterans, he is slapping them across the face at the same time. Speaker Boehner is leading the House of Representatives to starve nearly a million veterans.  The Republicans in the House pushed for billions of dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) more commonly known as food stamps.

There is a well-known myth that people on food stamps are gaming the system.  Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) believes that the entire food stamp program is overrun with “fraud,”. “Absolute 100 percent, all of it is fraud. There’s fraud all through that,” Mullin said.

I wonder if Congressman Mullin’s opinion would change when he finds out that over 2,000 veterans in his state alone rely on food stamps to feed their families?

Accordingly to a report out this week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, approximately 900,000 veterans are currently dependent, in whole or part, on food stamp benefits to care for their themselves and their families.” (Forbes 10/30/13)

The Huffington post also compiled the number of veterans who rely on food stamps and they came up with a different number.

According to data compiled by the Huffington Post, 1.5 million veteran households are using SNAP. The sharp increase of veterans or other military families relying on food stamps is right in line with what is happening across the board: more families are struggling to make ends meet because of the recovering economy and families who may have never needed assistance before are looking for help.” (Veterans Today)

I do not know which is worse; the fact that Congressional Republicans made cuts to a program that helps feed low-income families or the fact that over 900,000 veterans are dependent on food stamps?

It is disgusting and appalling that our veterans are paid such poverty wages that they cannot afford to live.  Our veterans are also coming back from their time in the service to find high unemployment.  Currently there is a 9% unemployment rate for Veterans, and higher for those Veterans who returned with disabilities.

Bryce Covert wrote on Think Progress:

Nearly one in 10 veterans with disabilities were without employment in 2010. They are also disproportionately likely to live in poverty and to be homeless. In 2010, nearly a million veterans ages 18 to 64 had experienced poverty over the past year. As of 2011, nearly one in seven homeless adults was a veteran and more than four in ten homeless veterans were without shelter. They are therefore heavily impacted by cuts to the social safety net.”

This Veterans Day we need our politicians to stop talking how much they support veterans and actually do something to help our struggling vets.  We need to start by restoring the cuts made to the SNAP program. Then we need to work on lowering the unemployment rate for returning soldiers.

The government should be doing more to help transition these veterans into careers.  They could move right into a civilian government job like the Postal Service or Department of Transportation. The government could also mandate a percentage of veteran employees in private companies with defense contracts.

We as a nation should not sit idly by while our veterans are starving and living on the streets.  This Veterans Day take a moment to help a vet by calling your Congressman and telling them to restore the cuts to the SNAP programs and stop starving our veterans.

Homeless Veterans

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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