WHEREAS, over one million veterans, men and women, of the United States Armed Forces, have served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom since the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 in response to the war on terror declared by President George Bush, Jr.; and
WHEREAS, over 3400 veterans of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard, and Reserves have died in service to this country in Iraq and Afghanistan, 10% of whom were Black veterans, while over 22,000 have been severely injured or wounded and many of the 550,000 have incurred other disabilities, mental disorders, and stress; and
WHEREAS, many veterans often face bureaucratic obstacles and barriers in the process of being medically discharged from active duty under the Dept. of Defense (DOD) into the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA); and
WHEREAS, the number of veterans waiting for their first medical appointment in the veterans' health care system has doubled in the last year to 30,475 veterans; a 400% increase since 2004; and
WHEREAS, the VA claims processing system for rating service-connected disabilities is seriously backlogged, causing a veteran to have to wait a minimum of 6 months before they can receive any monetary compensation for their disability; and
WHEREAS, veterans returning from tours of duty overseas face dismal employment prospects due to false perceptions that all veterans are suffering from mental disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and employers who want to minimize the risk of hiring a veteran who may be recalled to active duty in a few months; and
WHEREAS, more veterans and their families have increasingly been seeking counseling services to help counter the stress and disabilities incurred from military service during wartime and multiple deployments; and
WHEREAS, over 200,000 veterans, including some veterans from the War in Iraq, on any given night in this country are homeless, due to insufficient income, no family or community support, lack of affordable housing, substance abuse, and/or alcoholism due to physical disabilities and mental disorder, often war related; while Black male veterans are disproportionately more homeless and unemployed than any other ethnic group; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Defense and most of the civilian agencies continue to fall woefully short of meeting the mandatory requirement to award a minimum of 3% of all contracts to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans as a part of the overall effort to provide entrepreneurship opportunities as a rehabilitative alternative.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP strongly encourages the public and its members to urge government leaders and Congress to alleviate barriers to treatment, resources, and rehabilitation necessary for our veterans of the Armed Forces, National Guard, and the Reserves; returning from wars in foreign lands, to recenter society as close to or better than they were when they left.
BE IT FlNALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its 2004 resolution to organize workshops to educate its members about the issues pertaining to all veterans, especially Black veterans, at each NAACP National Convention and State Conference Convention.