Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day and the choices we make

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)
According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, about 250,000 unemployed veterans who were hit hard by the Great Depression were given job opportunities in the Civilian Conservation Corps. These men helped plant three billion trees and they also helped to create or improve hundreds of state parks (parks that we still enjoy today).

In 2012, Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have created a CCC-type jobs program for unemployed veterans who were hit hard by the recession. Then, in 2014, "Senate Republicans derailed efforts to move forward with a $21 billion bill to enhance health care, education and job benefits for veterans."
Unemployment is a contributor to suicide. About "22 veterans kill themselves every day, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs" ("Suicide rate among veterans is 22 a day; Crisis hotline can provide support"). 
According to researchers from Oxford and Stanford universities, New Deal policies were "associated with reduced suicide rates" (David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, p. 17, New York: Basic Books, 2013). 
We have choices to make in our politics and our policies. And those choices have consequences.

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