America: “Land of the free and home of the brave.” On its face a very simple statement – behind its reality, however, a much more dynamic expression. As Americans, I think we often take our freedom for granted. To most of us who were born in this country freedom is all we’ve ever known. Freedoms such as the right to practice our preferred religion, work where we choose or travel as we wish are often passed over as simply the normal course of living and never given a second thought. It’s just the way it is and the way it’s always been.
In the modern world in which we find ourselves the freedoms we enjoy are a gift. Many of us did nothing to earn them yet reap their benefits on a daily basis while billions around the world aspire to grasp what we as Americans have simply inherited. As an American there are but two groups that have paid the debt for our freedom and to whom we should be eternally grateful. At the outset of this great nation our Founding Fathers established a foundation that memorialized the liberties rightfully deserved by all men, which has stood the test of time and the trials of many generations. Once enshrined, it has been the American soldier who has protected these liberties and kept us a free people; so that our grandparents, parents, ourselves and our children simply accept freedom as “the usual way of living.”
To say that every man, woman and child who resides within the borders of this great nation owes our current and past warriors a special debt of gratitude would be a drastic understatement. Just as many in our superficial society are lavished with grossly misplaced admiration, so, too, are those who rightfully deserve adornment oftentimes ignored. It’s sad to say that those who have sacrificed so much for this country are routinely forgotten by many in our communities as soon as their service is done and the uniform is off.
There is a tragedy of epidemic proportions unfolding in this country, and unfortunately it is gaining momentum with each passing day. A lot of us would never imagine nor could readily accept the reality that surrounds many who have fought in our stead for our freedom. Unfortunately, the facts are what they are. Currently, in the richest and most technologically sophisticated nation ever to grace this planet, there are approximately 300,000 of our former soldiers who have no permanent address, no residence and nowhere to call home. Many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, which many times makes it impossible to function in their daily lives. They bear the burden of chemical dependency at a rate far greater than those who have only lived civilian lives. And the life “strategy” implemented by far too many of these brave souls is to simply cope no more. Twenty-two of these brave men and women are killing themselves on a daily basis.
As American citizens, where are we? Who is answering the desperate cries for help from some of our bravest? If asked most would flippantly assume government agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs are attending to the rapid social, fiscal and physical decline of so many of our veterans. But as the old saying goes, you know what assuming does. Our federal government, like with most things it touches, is making a mockery of its responsibility to our veterans.
So where do we look from here? One place I would suggest is the mirror. Since the beginning of this great “experiment,” there has been no collection of individuals more adept at innovation and efficiency than the American public. From raw wilderness American ingenuity has forged the most prosperous nation this world has ever known. It’s time the American spirit rose up once again with glaring determination affixed on the issues that plague those who have so bravely fought in our stead for our freedom.
About one year ago I put my money where my mouth is and did just that with the creation of an organization simply known as Save Homeless Veterans. We are a faith-based not-for-profit designed to address issues that have caused a veteran to become homeless. We provide faith-based counseling intended to rehabilitate the veteran in common problem areas such as drug and alcohol addiction, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. In addition we have the ability to provide job placement through a number of avenues along with intensive training related to fiscal literacy. All the while each veteran resides in a safe, clean single-family residential home.
To date we are rapidly growing and significantly expanding our sphere of influence and ability to drastically affect the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for us. Our inept bureaucracy is and has failed those who have valiantly protected our freedom. As citizens of this nation we do not have that option. We the People, through ingenuity and perseverance, have forged the greatest civilization known to man. Here before us lies a tremendous task that only we can solve. Please pick up the cause and join me. If we don’t, no one else will.
“Only two people have ever offered to die for you … Jesus Christ and the American GI. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.”