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EDITORIAL: Veterans deserve respect - and good care

On Veterans Day it is important to recognize that while those who served certainly deserve our gratitude and respect, they need and have earned a lot more.

Veterans of our more recent conflicts too often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, joblessness, homelessness, divorce and addiction. On average, 18 veterans kill themselves each day, double the rate of the general population, and veterans ages 18-29 are six times more likely to take their own lives than is the average person.

These problems will be exacerbated by the stresses felt by military personnel doing tour after tour in combat zones. More than 110,000 active troops have served three or more such tours, and the fallout of our current conflicts will be felt by these men and women for decades.

On Long Island, according to the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, thousands of veterans are homeless.

Programs that identify and address these issues can work. Studies show, for instance, that 18- to 29-year-old veterans who use Veterans Affairs health-care services are less likely to attempt suicide than those who don't.

More help is needed, including jobs programs, addiction treatment, special courts and assistance for caregivers. Veterans also must be told of and steered toward such resources.

Showing our gratitude is the least we can do. What's called for is quite a bit more. hN