I was in New York recently and I was invited to a veterans reunion. I had the opportunity to speak with many veterans who had been in the Gulf wars and in Vietnam. What impressed me more than anything is how well the American general public welcome veterans wherever or whatever their situation. They are offered free meals in restaurants, and passers-by will stop and shake their hands. Complimentary tickets to football, basketball and other sporting events, tickets to see Broadway shows. It is a little sad that our veterans are not treated with the same respect, thatís not quite true, we do remember them but that is normally on remembrance day, and thereafter until next year.
We have military charities who do an excellent job when asked. But I believe they could do more. We are reading and hearing of veterans living on the streets which should never happen, numbers of them are mooted but I am sure we have no true figure just how many there are sleeping rough. In most towns and villages across the country, we have RBL, regimental association clubs who meet once a month they ought to be putting out feelers to see if there are veterans living rough in their area and if there are then do something about it.
Our two main charities are sitting on £ millions. We had Helped for Heroís we now need, Homes for Heroes. I see no reason why that these two charities pool their resources and throughout the country with the support of the government, and local authorities build suitable accommodation for veterans and not forgetting the homeless people and we are rid of this curse.
We are the fifth richest nation in the world and we are not looking after or treating our veterans as we should. Our military charities are inward looking and too protective of themselves. Can we do what I have said? Of course, we can it only needs the resolve of the powers to be to set it in motion, thatís all.
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