The N&O editorial page is not known for its elegance. But today's lead editorial about the disastrous consequences of Bush's War in Iraq and Republican "leadership" on veteran's affairs over the past six years is a moving call for action.
Some veterans of the Vietnam War still express surprise at the unfriendly receptions they received when they returned to the United States from that combat zone. But they could have predicted that many of them would end up on the streets within a few years of arriving back home. Chronic homelessness has been a cruel reality for veterans since at least the Civil War, when former fighters who hit hard times took the nickname "tramps," after the sound they made when they had marched into battle years earlier.
That sad history gives the nation a heads up today as veterans come home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many will struggle with homelessness: the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department already has identified 1,500 vets from the current wars who have joined others who sleep under bridges and in lonely patches of woods. As with many homeless people, homeless veterans suffer disproportionately from mental illnesses. And they also often deal with drug and alcohol problems.
Congress, of course, needs to put spending to ease the transition for veterans high on its priorities as those troops come home, including making sure there's a home for them when they get here.
When you read a story about homeless veterans or meet those guys on the street in DC or New York or right here in our military-friendly state, just remember who put them there: Liddy Dole. Richard Burr. Robin Hayes. Howard Coble. Sue Myrick. Virginia Foxx. Patrick McHorny. And yes, even Walter Jones.
Twelve months ago, I wrote this. Not much has changed in the intervening year.