In honor of the brave men and women who served our country, here are five ideas of how we can make life better for our most vulnerable patriots.
1. Let Veterans Vote
In many states, if you are convicted of certain crimes, you lose your right to cast a ballot. These disenfranchised citizens include more than 585,000 veterans. We should honor their service by allowing their voices to be part of our democracy again.
2. Provide Transgender Veterans With Medically Necessary Health Care
There are more than 134,000 transgender veterans or retirees. Yet they are not able to receive full health care. The Veterans Health Administration and TriCare, the healthcare program of the Department of Defense, must provide full medical care, including treatments specifically related to gender transition and gender affirmation.
3. Abolish the Death Penalty
A new report by the Death Penalty Information Center reveals that at least one in every 10 people on death row is a veteran of the U.S. military. Too often, the courts don't consider PTSD and other potential impacts of military experience on a veteran's mental health. Our justice system makes these grave errors and many others in death penalty cases. We shouldn’t put anyone’s life at risk this way. Our veterans — and the civilians they protected from harm — deserve better.
4. Honor Immigrant Veterans
When immigrant veterans are convicted of crimes, even non-violent and non-serious crimes, they face deportation and permanent separation from their families. The Department of Homeland Security should give special consideration to the veteran’s military service, the possibility of rehabilitation, and the impact on the veteran’s family before deporting those who served this country.
5. Don’t Discriminate Against Survivors of Military Sexual Violence
After being sexually assaulted, many veterans still have to fight to receive the benefits they deserve. According to the ACLU and Service Women’s Action Network report, Battle for Benefits: VA Discrimination Against Survivors of Military Sexual, the Department of Veterans Affairs granted disability benefit claims for PTSD related to military sexual trauma at significantly lower rates than for other forms of PTSD, disproportionately impacting female veterans. We must reform VA regulations and improve training and oversight so veterans who experienced sexual assault are not traumatized again by poor care.