A Reason to Care: Assisting Beyond Veteran’s Day
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UPDATED: Nov 12, 2012
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On Sunday, Nov. 11, the Veteran’s Day Parade was held in New York City, amid a location devastated by Hurricane Sandy. President Obama thanked the large crowd for attending and supporting the countrymen and women who keep the United States free. And for the first time in 10 years, there was something worthwhile to celebrate.
“This is the first Veterans Day in a decade in which there are no American troops fighting and dying in Iraq,” President Obama said during the parade. “After a decade of war, our heroes are coming home.”
There are more than 22 million veterans, and the number is only increasing. Due to the troops withdraw in Afghanistan and Iraq, another million military veterans will be returning to normal, non-war, life. This influx in numbers only further establishes a need for American support. The importance of caring for veterans is prevalent in the country and ranges from job training to the VA loan program.
Veterans Retraining Assistance Program
There is a vast array of government funding prepared for the next fiscal year. In total, the VA budget requested $140.3 billion for 2013, a 4.5 percent increase from 2012. It includes $64 billion in discretionary resources and almost $76.4 billion in mandatory funding.
The 2013 Obama budget allots for $259 million in veteran employment and training services. A substantial part of funding goes toward a sector of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. The new law, the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), offers up to one year of training assistance for unemployed veterans. Although the program has several age and honorable discharge requirements, it has approved over 62,000 applicants for job training. VRAP will provide training for programs listed as high demand by the Department of Labor. Just as college educations assist young high school graduates with their futures, the VRAP will enable servicemembers to establish a stable career, remain in good standings with the country and with the military, and provide for themselves and their families.
The 2013 budget allots for a staggering $1.4 billion to fight homelessness among veterans. The funds go to local governments, non-profit organizations, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor. Of the country’s 22 million veteran’s, an estimated 67,497 were homeless in 2011, according to the Washington Post. While the number is dropping significantly, the funding to eradicate this number is still a necessity.
When a 2009 anti-homelessness initiative was announced, the goal to eradicate homelessness was stated by Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
“I learned long ago that there are never any absolutes in life, and a goal of zero homeless veterans sure sounds like an absolute,” Shinseki said in the 2009 speech. “But unless we set ambitious targets for ourselves, we would not be giving this our very best efforts.”
Buying a Home with VA loans
The VA recently guaranteed their 20 millionth home loan. The VA loan program assists veterans, reservists, servicemembers, and spouses to obtain homes and mortgage refinances. VA loans do not require a down payment, which allows for cash-strapped young and old veterans to afford homeownership. Additionally, VA loans offer some of the lowest interest rates in the country. There are additional VA loan benefits which further prove how vital government-backed programs are for this group of citizens.
Having a stable VA loan program enables servicemen and women to stabilize their family life by having a home of their own.
A Reason to Care
Now that elections are over and new plans have been put into place, the hope is that the country can once again gain stability. And one of the most deserving groups of U.S. citizens is veterans. While some doubt the extensive veteran support budget, President Obama highlighted the ever-present need to support them with healthcare, VA loans, and job placement training.
“No one who fights for this country overseas should even have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they have earned when they come home,” he said.