Our veterans deserve to be treated better

As today’s servicemen and women return home from protecting our freedoms and liberties in deployments around the world, many are coming home to a domestic economy that is anything but welcoming.

Veteran unemployment, at 9.7 percent, is almost two full percentage points higher than the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan having the hardest time finding work. Planned national security cuts scheduled for 2013 and beyond would compound this problem, with officials estimating that the US Army could see layoffs of up to 24,000 enlisted personnel, including up to 5,000 officers, while the U.S. Marine Corps could shrink by some 20,000.

We can do better.

In addition to the lack of job security, veterans are facing a culture of waste and inefficiency at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that has resulted in long waits, delayed benefits, mishandled documents and poor service to veterans. Currently, the VA has 890,000 pension and compensation claims that remain unfulfilled—a number that has more than doubled since 2008. Today, it takes 240 days to process the average claim—60 days longer than a decade ago.

We can do better.

Runaway government spending means it will only be more difficult to address these problems in the future. In a nationwide Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) poll conducted this summer, we found that 72 percent of veterans named the economy and the debt as their top concerns in 2012. These veterans recognize that a weak economy and a towering national debt only serve to compromise our nation’s long-term security.

We can do better.

CVA is determined to bring attention to these and other issues facing our country’s returning soldiers—many of which are going unheard due to dysfunctional military voting procedures that disenfranchise service members. Absentee ballots are not being process properly, which means military voters may not be heard—another reason why we’re hosting a bus tour through several presidential campaign “swing states” from October 20-28. The “We Can Do Better” tour may be coming to your town this month.

Let’s stand up for our veterans and military personnel. We invite you to join us, whether on the road or at the ballot box, in calling for real leadership from the president and Congress to deliver needed spending reform and a responsible fiscal policy that will protect the freedom and prosperity our military men and women fight so hard to preserve.

Our veterans and our troops on the front lines understand that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” and it is because of their unwavering dedication that the United States has long maintained its strength, freedoms and prosperity.

We owe them better. We can do better. Join us in urging our leaders to deliver the leadership that US veterans, all Americans, deserve.