The Nation Is Dropping the Ball in Veterans Care

January 24, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not mince words when discussing how the United States cares for its veterans after they leave the military. Adm. Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.), challenged Tuesday luncheon attendees at West 2012 in San Diego to help military personnel bridge to civilian life after they leave the service. Adm. Mullen cited several crisis areas that veterans face as they attempt to transition to civilian life. The rates of homeless veterans are higher than their equivalents among non-veterans, and many of these homeless veterans are women with children. Unemployment among veterans also is higher than for the general public. And, the military has record suicide rates. That rate must be zero, the admiral declared. He believes that every community in the United States will want to help its veterans. It is up to the defense community to figure out how they can help. The Defense Department needs metrics on veterans support programs, including family programs, Adm. Mullen stated. This will allow support to be directed to the good programs, while the programs that do not work can be cancelled. Adm. Mullen also directed remarks at industry representatives in attendance. "How many vets have you hired?" he asked. "Whatever it is, double or triple it."

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