There is a tendency on Memorial Day, even now with U.S. troops stationed across a restive Middle East, to focus on the past.
With two World Wars, Vietnam, the Korean War and other military conflicts under our collective belt, there is certainly much to memorialize. But as cities across the nation are starting to realize, an influx of new, younger military veterans returning home from current tours of duty is forcing some adjustments.
From Burbank to the Foothills, our local communities have long traditions of honoring those who have served their country in the military. But new challenges brought on by the conflicts in the Middle East have prompted a new look at how to best serve our returning service men and women.
Beyond any physical damage wrought on the battlefield, rates of post traumatic stress disorder among returning troops are climbing, begging more investment in mental health services for veterans who may already find the transition into civilian life challenging.
In Glendale, a coalition of government programs is assisting veterans of recent conflicts get subsidized housing by the city’s Housing Authority, job help and counseling at the Verdugo Jobs Center — all while taking classes at Los Angeles City College.
This is the kind of multi-pronged approach that our veterans need and deserve. It is not enough to thank them for their years of service in violent, traumatizing conflict zones. We must continue to open up services here that will give our returning troops the best “thank you” we can: a shot at a productive, successful life at home.