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Home of the Brave? Less Mouth, More Action for Our Veterans

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Over the past five years, the National Football League has been negatively impacted by the subject of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), their lack of consistency in adjudicating domestic violence incidents involving NFL players, and former San Francisco 49er's QB, Colin Kaepernick choosing to kneel during the singing of the national anthem in protest to police brutality across America.

Many viewed Kaepernick's kneeling as disrespecting the American flag and our military. This led to some choosing to boycott the NFL this season. So far, boycotts have resulted in lost revenue for the league. This fact, plus some active NFL players kneeling during the anthem, certainly has angered the vast majority of league owners. (Note: Some fans are also boycotting the NFL due to their suspicions of owners conspiring to keep Kaepernick out of the league)

Simply put, our Veterans don't need to be placed in the middle of endless patriotism, or lack thereof debates that eventually become politicized and serves them no purpose. If you really want to display true patriotism, direct your passion towards improving the quality of life for our Veterans. None of them should be subjected to the endless delays involved in processing medical and benefit claims.

In 2014, Congress and Veteran Affairs thought they had the perfect solution to this problem: Veterans Choice (card), a $10 billion program which allows veterans an opportunity see a non-VA doctor, if they were more than 40 miles away from a VA facility or there was more than a 30 day wait to see VA providers.

So far, this program has been a major bust because of the long delays involved in the claims process. This, of course, drew complaints from many non-VA providers which led to some no longer accepting Veterans Choice patients.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), our nation's homeless veterans are predominantly male, with roughly 9% being female. The majority are single; live in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. Also, about 11% of the adult homeless population in America are veterans.  Another troubling fact is suicide—not combat—is the leading killer of U.S. troops deployed to the Middle East to fight Islamic State militants, the Pentagon statistics showed.

According to the USA Today (2016), an average of 20 veterans a day committed suicide in 2014 (Latest data available), a trend that reflects record high rates among young men fresh out of the military and growing numbers of women taking their lives, the first actual count of suicides among former service members shows. Also, there are serious concerns about the relationship between military suicides and the increase of psychotropic drug prescriptions.

To my knowledge, none of the boycotts directed towards the NFL,
address the pertinent issues that affect so many of our Veterans and active military.  The focus needs to be more towards their quality life from our government leaders and Veterans Affairs to ensure housing, nutritional meals, physical healthcare, mental health counseling, substance abuse care and aftercare, personal development, empowerment, and employment programs.

More mouth and less action is not a reflection of patriotism! We must do better! Happy Veterans Day to all of our VETERANS.

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