The cost of these wars and the impact on the deficit present a significant challenge to our nation. But cutting veterans benefits could have an even more detrimental effect on our society and economy.
We need to remember that the worst burdens of these wars have fallen on veterans and their families.Returning veterans have higher rates of suicide and mental illness, increased drug and alcohol dependence and higher rates of violence. Those high-risk behaviors have resulted in elevated numbers of car crashes and drug overdoses, elevated levels of homelessness and divorce.
The toll of these wars in terms of human and economic costs will continue for decades, so it’s imperative to remember that caring for our nation’s sick and disabled veterans and their families is a sacred obligation — one promised to them when they volunteered their service, not merely a line item in the federal budget.As Congress and the president continue to debate a deficit and debt compromise, it’s essential they remember that the resources to meet the needs of our veterans must be sustained and guaranteed.