Berthel

Eviana Berthel (left) is congratulated by Dianne Strickler of the Bellevue American Legion Auxiliary for winning first place in the Legion Americanism Essay Contest.

Editor’s Note: Eviana Berthel, a junior at Marquette Catholic was recently honored for her winning essay submission to the Bellevue Post #273 American Legion Auxiliary. Her winning essay, entitled ‘Veterans Protecting America, America Protecting Veterans,’ took first place in the local contest and is being reprinted here at the request of the Bellevue Legion Auxiliary. Eviana is the daughter of Jenny and Leonard Berthel.

By Eviana Berthel

American Legion Auxiliary Essay

“Our veterans who fall on hard times and find themselves without a home deserve more than just handwriting or kind words. They deserve real help that gets them back on their feet” (Michelle Obama). Veterans never fail to protect the lives of Americans as they breathe the air on the battlefield and march, knowing their life could end. They come back home, hoping for life to be normal again after shouldering the burden of America. Instead, these men and women find themselves homeless in despair, without a just system to rely on. Altruistic words and wishful thinking only gets them so far. It is not only about providing shelter for veterans but entirely supporting their wellbeing. By implementing non-profits, emphasizing mental health, connecting families, and educating Americans, veterans can safely combat the struggles of employment, healthcare, and housing.

The first step is beginning or participating in non-profits, such as National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, that aid in preventing veteran homelessness: to not change but evolve their lives. People should become active by donating money or, more importantly, volunteering their time by feeding the veterans nutritious meals and becoming apart of a board, exploring new ways to shelter in the most efficient way. To further expand these programs that fulfill only the basic of needs, counselors, medical professionals, and social workers are just as important to this process. Competent volunteers will help veterans ease their hectic process of coming home. A saddening 45 percent of veterans undergo mental issues, and 70 percent of veterans struggle with substance addiction problems (We Honor Veterans); treatment should be a basic necessity for suffering veterans. To lessen the mental shock of veterans post-war, military agencies should require medical counseling before and immediately following deployment so veterans are prepared with a sturdy mind and coping resources.

Another reason many veterans are homeless is due to poor family connection. After multiple years of training and combat, veterans lose relationships with the ones they cherish most. Who are we to expect a man or a woman to give up their own families to protect our liberties? Instead, organizers need to invent a process in which veterans can stay connected with their loved ones. Currently, several bases have poor communicative access (Military.com). By implementing stronger wireless connection, the service member will have a more reliable source of communication. Deployment agencies should also work with maintaining service relationships by scheduling calls and updating each side as much as possible. Simply by better interactions, families can reunite and prevent homelessness.

Coming together as fellow citizens is the only real way to solve veteran homelessness. Educating the youth on this emotional issue is especially important because earlier generations do not know the stresses wars veil upon people. Society needs to spread the word to be benevolent, especially to those of lower class and poverty; those are the people that fought for the lives of children and freedom. Society needs to build sympathy in hearts, reflecting upon the righteous duties veterans survived through.

Sources: Military.com. “Communicating With Your Partner On Deployment.” Military.com, member 30298028, www.military.com/deployment/communicating-with-your-partner-on-deployment.html.

We Honor Veterans. “Homeless Veterans.” We Honor Veterans, www.wehonorveterans.org/veterans-their-needs/specific-populations/homeless-veterans.