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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion oped editorial

EDITORIAL: Mental health for veterans

In 2013, the United States spent $718 billion, about 20 percent of its budget, on 
defense.

A smaller percentage went to veterans’ benefits.

Veterans and federal retirees only accounted for seven percent of the budget.

Not only is there a dearth of money being spent on veterans, there is also a lack of good care being given to these men and women.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder dismissed the state’s Director of Veterans Affairs for failure to provide adequate care services.

One in six calls to the Veterans Affairs suicide hotline go to hold.

With these conditions, it is not surprising there is a surge of untreated post-traumatic stress disorder cases in 
veterans.

However, for a nation that spends so much on defense, the number of these cases is a damning, dark stain on the U.S.

Regardless of anyone’s views about the U.S. military, there is a consensus veterans should be respected.

They sacrificed a good portion of their lives and deserve respect.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle voice these sentiments constantly.

But this sentiment does not seem to translate into direct care given to those who served, and that is becoming increasingly clear, especially in the case of mental health.

According to RAND corporation, a nonprofit think tank that gives research for the Armed Forces, one-third of troops diagnosed with PTSD and less than one quarter of troops diagnosed with depression are receiving the full number of therapy 
sessions.

After seeing the horrors of war, veterans are entitled to treatment options.

However, the lack of attention we pay to the situation is shocking.

Last year, the defense budget was $598 billion, and a good portion was used on advertising the military to new recruits, building new weapons and funding bases.

While the usefulness of some of these purchases is important to consider, the budget needs to increase in terms of veterans spending.

There are between 500,000 to 800,000 homeless veterans every year, according to Veterans Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides services to veterans.

These veterans are not receiving the care they are promised for wartime 
afflictions.

If Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics cannot properly care for them, veterans should be able to use their benefits at other hospitals or providers and should receive insurance support for private care.

This solution changes the system to help veterans more effectively, unlike the solutions of privatizing Veteran’s Affairs that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders have criticized.

The staggering number of untreated cases of mental health problems for veterans is astounding.

However, it can be fixed with adequate spending.

As a nation that prides itself on its troops, we’re obligated to give those who serve exemplary care.

Veterans Affairs needs to be reformed, and politicians need to stop discussing military spending without mentioning the dark spot of American politics.

Our country and these organizations need to give greater attention to the mental health of veterans.

Until then, we aren’t giving them the respect they deserve.

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