Yahoo News asked military service members, veterans and military families to react to the nomination of Chuck Hagel to the defense secretary post and what changes they'd like to see at the department. Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY | I served in the U.S. Navy for eight years. Twice, I deployed to Iraq and was honorably discharged as a second class petty officer (E-5). I'm currently the public affairs officer for multiple VFW organizations.
Should Chuck Hagel be selected as the Secretary of Defense, one area I'd like to see addressed deals with veterans' affairs. The treatment of non-retired, prior-enlisted military members concerns me greatly.
I speak to members of this group on a regular basis and the general consensus is they're forgotten.
These members face issues, such as difficulty acquiring earned benefits, remaining untreated for symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and struggling to simply "get by" upon their discharge.
Within six months of my discharge, I found myself attempting to donate plasma merely to eat. I was unable to because the clinics were already full. I spoke with a clinic employee who said that at least half of the individuals he sees claim to be veterans.
Is that what these patriots who chose to serve must resort to? Giving a piece of themselves in order to survive?
Homelessness for prior-enlisted veterans is a huge concern. It's scary how easy I went from having everything I needed to selling personal items to pay rent. Had it not been for a friend, I'd have ended up on the streets. Had it not been for my parents, I'd have gone hungry.
If Hagel is selected as secretary of defense, he has a tough job ahead of him. If he's confident in his ability to serve in such a high position of authority, however, he needs to ensure that he does his job well. Part of that job is the care of veterans who no longer stand the watch.
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