Thinking about our Veterans

Thea article was written and submitted to the New NY23rd by Cath Kestler, activist and resident of Silver Creek for 30 years. This was also published in Cath the Dunkirk Observer Today as her most recent bi-weekly column. We thank her for sharing it with us.


We are in the clutches of a deep freeze as winter finally arrives in WNY. Break out your shovels, sidewalk salt and tune up that snow-blower; a basket sits by our door filled with scarves, hats and gloves to help stave off that “old man winter” we’ve heard about all of our lives. While the temperatures dip into the single digits at night, add another log to the fire, cuddle up with a warm, fuzzy blanket and don’t forget to bring your four-legged kids inside.

While surviving another rushed holiday season jam packed with visits from family and great friends, enjoying good food and conversation; don’t forget to clean out your hallway closet and donate all of your unused coats, scarves, gloves, hats and warm clothes to your nearest homeless shelter. If you can, volunteer to help serve a meal or two, sit down and strike up a conversation with someone who looks lonely.

Did you know that the vast majority of the homeless are Veterans? Veterans are 50 percent more likely to become homeless than other Americans due to poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. Those who have actually seen action on the front lines are the ones most affected.


We are in a crisis trying to care for our veterans once they come home (most soldiers are too proud to admit or even ask for help once they get back home), it’s very easy for
them to slip through the cracks. Some suffer in silence for years when they really don’t have to.


Whether they need help physically, emotionally, or financially we should be there to help pick up the pieces. Programs such as the Wounded Warrior Project are wonderful to get them engaged in life and connect the veterans with the proper programs to help them.


It seems like the Republicans on Capitol Hill are real good at calling for the US to get into a war aveterans-dayt the drop of a dime. Most of them profit off the spoils of war and that isn’t a good enough of a reason for our young adults to be shipped off to fight a war that probably could be solved with a good dose of diplomacy. Most of them never served and I think they should before they start the talk of war.

How can you say you support the troops when you know you are trying to cut the very programs that the military families rely on when their soldier is away and when they first get back home? Our Veterans deserve more respect.


The deep cuts by the Reagan administration to mental health centers severely affected those who required care and put people back on the street that didn’t belong there. Most required medications and professional daily care and when Reagan closed those centers, the patients lost access to their medication and virtually all hell broke loose. PTSD is very tricky diagnose and can be worse to treat, you must be vigilant regarding treatment. Simple things can trigger a relapse and it’s getting to know your triggers that can help with the treatment.

I personally don’t think that military personnel get paid enough for the sacrifices that they and their family go through. Recently President Obama gave the military a raise, which is now in effect. Republicans have refused to give the President credit for the increase, despite it being the largest increase in the last five years.

Democrats in the House and the Senate had originally proposed a 3.8 percent across the board raise for all federal workers, this bill died in our Republican controlled House. The pay for the members of the military increases depending on the length of service and rank, the average salary for a soldier is just over $40,000 per year, a number that most people agree is too low.

Members of the military will receive an increase of 1.3 percent; a pay freeze was in effect during the 2011-2013 due to sequestration. This gives the military the largest raise in five years. Over the last two years, the military increase was only at one percent. The Congress, however, voted them a $2,800 per year raise. I think that you’d agree with me that Congress should be paid at a rate of the actual amount of work performed and whether or not you actually show up to vote on the bills presented on the floor.

Republicans often label President Obama, Democrats, and people on the left politically as anti-American, who don’t care enough about the country’s men and women in uniform. With Republicans often so quick to attack the President, they have remained silent when it comes to any issue related to the military. Actions speak volumes louder than words, in my opinion.


About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
This entry was posted in Congress, Constituents, Defense, Dept of Defense, Economics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Thinking about our Veterans

  1. Anne says:

    My only quibble with this piece is the statement that “the vast majority of the homeless are veterans.” The actual number hovers between eight and nine percent, which, while appalling, is not a vast majority. It’s important, I think, that we always remain as factually meticulous and as precise as possible when arguing against Reed, his votes, his policies, and his cohort. Otherwise we risk our entire argument being weakened, in the eyes of those who disagree with us, on the basis of a single inaccuracy or exaggeration.


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