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Honoring our Veterans through “Taps”

The iconic military hymn “Taps” has been a hallmark of American military funerals since 1891. Tom Day, founder of the organization Bugles Across America, strives to ensure that that tradition, and the veterans who died in America’s service, are not forgotten. In a new article in the Weekly Standard, the great Matt Labash describes Day’s lifelong commitment to honoring veterans.

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The Dwindling Rate of Veterans in Congress

As lawmakers debate military intervention in Syria, it’s important to consider their professional background. Drew DeSilver of the Pew Research Center compiled the rates of veterans in Congress over the years, and the results may surprise you.

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Addressing the Backlog of Veterans Disability Claims

The backlog of disability claims waiting to be resolved by the VA reached 611,000 in March, an all-time high. President Obama spoke at the Disabled American Veterans’ convention in Florida on Saturday and acknowledged that the problem was far from being resolved, but progress had been made.

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Supporting Veterans as a Moral and Practical Duty

Providing adequate services to America’s veterans is not only a moral obligation, but also a critical step in ensuring the future vitality of the military, Alexander Nicholson argues. In an article in The Atlantic, Nicholson makes the case for improving veterans services to ensure that the benefits promised by the VA are actually delivered to veterans in an efficient manner.

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Solving the Veterans Disability Backlog

There are more than 850,000 veterans waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process their disability claims. With the average wait time at 330 days, and some veterans waiting well over a year for service according to USA Today, Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) have introduced legislation to reduce the backlog.

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Improving Veterans’ Mental Health Services

In response to grave concerns over veterans’ access to adequate mental health services, the Veterans Affairs Department announced that they will expand their mental health services, starting immediately. This announcement comes after President Obama’s remarks at the National Conference on Mental Health on Monday. “Today, we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide — 22. We’ve got to do a better job … of preventing these all-too-often silent tragedies.”

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Helping homeless veterans

“You know the expression ‘never leave the fallen behind’? Homelessness is the equivalent of leaving a buddy on the battlefield. They’re heroes in the shadows.” So says Joe Leal, founder of the Vet Hunters Project, a group whose mission is to track down and help homeless comrades. Leal is an Iraq-war veteran and a reservist  with the 115th Combat Service Support Battalion in South El Monte, a city outside Los Angeles, California.

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How to help veterans succeed in college

As we’ve noted before, more universities and colleges are working to help military veterans adjust to college life. Even so, there is a long way to go, as Ryan Gallucci recently reminded readers of the New York Times’ “At War” blog. Gallucci, who is the deputy legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, provides a good overview of services currently available to student veterans and suggests some ideas for improvements.

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Helping veterans graduate

We’ve noted before the paucity of data available tracking how veterans perform once they enter college. Now, at the New York Times, James Dao writes about why that data is important in helping veterans face their unique challenges as students of higher education.

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Wal-Mart’s plan to hire veterans

The New York Times reports this morning that Wal-Mart will announce a plan later today that will provide a job for nearly every veteran who wants one. The program, which will focus on veterans that have left the military in the previous year and did not receive a dishonorable discharge, will last for five years and will, according to the company, lead to the hiring of more than 100,000 veterans.

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Do veterans graduate?

We reported in December that, even though veterans are now enrolling in colleges and other higher education programs at rates last seen right after World War II, there exists very little information on how veterans are doing once they matriculate. Roughly 70 percent of higher education institutions do not collect retention and graduation rates for undergraduate veterans. Writing earlier this week in Inside Higher Ed, Paul Fain provides an update, noting that a new agreement between the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Student Clearinghouse will help provide better data on how veterans perform in college.

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Single Stop for Veterans

Writing for the New York Times “At War” blog, James Dao takes a look at a new program in New York City that helps veterans and their families navigate the complex web of federal assistance programs. The Single Stop Veterans Initiative is an off-shoot of Single Stop USA, which has provided counseling to the city’s poor for more than a decade.

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Understanding student veterans

With soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to a down economy, many veterans are choosing to enroll in colleges and other higher education programs. Indeed, the recent increase of student veterans in higher education has been the fastest since the GIs of World War II flooded college campuses in the late ’40s and early ’50s. Now, as they did then, colleges are scrambling to understand student veterans and help them succeed.

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Education center at Vietnam Wall to honor recent veterans

Writing for the Courier-Journal, Staff Sgt. Salvatore Guinta, the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, worries that even with the public outpouring of support for service members, the care packages sent, and the warm homecomings offered, “today’s military members serve a nation more disconnected from its armed forces that at any time in our country’s history.”

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Number of veterans in Congress continues to decline

Last week, Susan Davis at USA Today reported on the decreasing number of military veterans serving in the Congress, noting that “when the next session convenes in January, the two chambers will have the fewest number of veterans serving since World War II.”

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Honoring our veterans

This Sunday, November 11, is Veterans Day. We as a nation commemorate the holiday every year on November 11, but how many of us know why we do? What makes Veterans Day different from Memorial Day? What does the holiday mean, and how do we properly observe it? What does it mean to honor the Veterans in our midst?

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Helping veterans help themselves

In an article this week in The Washington Times, Sgt. Dakota Meyer, a recent Medal of Honor recipient, and Kevin Schmiegel, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, write about the high unemployment rate facing the nation’s returning veterans and discuss ways that they are helping veterans better prepare for the tough job market.

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Employing America’s veterans

According to a recent report by the Center for a New American Security, veterans who served after September 11 are facing unemployment rates that are both higher than their civilian peers and higher than veterans from prior wars.

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Veterans on Wall Street

The New York Times recently reported on a small brokerage firm, Drexel Hamilton, that reaches out to and trains military veterans for jobs in the financial sector. As we’ve noted before, the unemployment rate for veterans is higher than the national average–and for veterans ages 24 and under, the unemployment rate is about 12% higher than that of their peers (29.1% compared to 17.6%). Drexel Hamilton is trying to change this.

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“No prohibition against U.S. veterans”

Over at Via Meadia, Walter Russell Mead points to an op-ed by Princeton professor Uwe Reinhardt on veterans at elite universities.

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