America loves its Veterans. Over the decades, the Veterans of America’s armed forces and foreign wars have held a revered spot in the public consciousness as the embodiments of patriotism and national pride. Their selfless service to our country and our Constitution has often been one of the few unifying forces within our increasingly divided and polarized electorate. For much of the American public, Veterans are given the unique honor in our society of near universal respect and praise. Service Members and Veterans put themselves on the line to protect our liberties and in return the public pledges support to them through government benefits and programs.
Over the course of American History, the benefits afforded to American Veterans have varied. According to the Roper Center, “WWI veterans received minimal benefits from the government. Those who were not disabled in combat received, as the Veteran’s Administration today describes it, ‘little more than a $60 allowance and a train ticket home.’” But following WWII and the passage of the GI Bill in 1944, “…vet benefits were extended to include unemployment compensation, education, job training, and guaranteed home and business loans.” Contemporary debates centered around the extent to offer government funded medical benefits for non-war related ailments, or whether or not to provide pensions to veterans 65 and older. By 1947, nearly two thirds of the American public felt that Veterans were receiving appropriate benefits from the federal government.
But according to analysis recently conducted by the Roper Center, the public at large believes that the government is not doing enough through its federal programs to honor the sacrifices made by those in uniform. By 2012, polling of the public revealed that 58% of Americans felt that Veterans were not receiving proper benefits from the government. The shift in public sentiment occurred in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, according to Roper. “A 1979 poll found that a third of Americans believed veterans of the Vietnam era had been given fewer benefits than veterans of WWII or Korea, while 35% said they received the same.” By 1990, polling revealed that 64% of the American public felt that Vietnam Veterans had been generally mistreated by the United States Government.
That the majority of Americans believe our Veterans are not being provided for well enough by the government highlights the esteem in which the national regards its soldiers and Veterans. As far back as 1979, “…poll(s) found majorities favoring the U.S. government providing psychological counseling (94%), money for education (93%), career advice (77%), even counseling and training for vets in prison (68%).” Americans want their Veterans cared for, by wide margins. As noted by Roper, “Overall, Americans seem to be aware that current public support for veterans is relatively high. Only 20% in a 2007 WNBC/Marist poll thought that soldiers from the Iraq War had gotten less respect than servicemen from previous conflicts; 43% say about the same and 37% say more.”
America loves its Veterans and American citizens believe that the government should do all in its capacity to improve the lives of those who today volunteer to protect the virtues of American life. As citizens, we must do all we can to make sure that the government lives up to its obligations to those who have selflessly served it.
Image Credit: Photo by Josh Johnson on Unsplash
In 2020, the competition between President Trump and Vice President Joe Biden was a cutthroat affair. Each candidate championed themselves as protectors of our troops, while denigrating the other as unfit to lead.