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Citizens of Charlotte N.C. Walk the Talk About Honoring Veterans

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

Charlotte, North Carolina is one a few communities nationally that has found a way to translate those words into direct action and actually support our veterans.

Tommy Norman, a Charlotte area Vietnam-era veteran, stepped up and founded an effort that became The Charlotte Bridge Home which provides a range of support to returning veterans.[1] Charlotte Bridge Home helps newly returned vets make the transition to civilian life. 

He started doing his homework by facilitating a comprehensive study of the situation and discovered some stunning facts.

Over 2.5 million Americans served in uniform in either Iraq or Afghanistan.[2] A third of them were deployed more than once, and 400,000 were deployed three or more times.[3]

The casualty rate is high. Of the 2.5 million who served there, 1.6 million have been discharged. Of those discharged, 670,000 have qualified for some level of disability - about 2 out of every 5![4]

There are over 55,000 veterans - one in 13 adults[5]- living in Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located.[6]

About one- third of them served in Iraq or Afghanistan.[7]

One in five homeless people in the Charlotte area are veterans.[8] One in five younger vets is female - and these female vets are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.[9] Unemployment rate among Charlotte area veterans is one and a half times that of non-veterans.[10]

While programs to assist veteran do exist, getting register for them can be painfully slow due insufficient staff at the Veterans Administration offices. As of November 25, 2013 the Veterans Administration reported that nationally 696,000 such applications are "pending" and 390,000 of those were 4 months old or older.[11]In North Carolina the backlog is in the range of 9-10 months.[12] This situation was made worse by the October 2013 shutdown of the government for 16 days.

According to the Department of Defense, almost one-third of the returning vets examined were diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome because these recent wars have our troops living among hostile people who literally surround them and attempt to inflict injury in random constant attacks. 

The impacts of PTSD can be reduced if proper care is given...but most vets do not know of their options, and need a hand to get the help they deserve.

The Charlotte Bridge Home staff who took up the challenge convened over 400 interested people including those representing 26 military and government agencies, 25 not for profit organizations and 66 companies. Working together, this group developed a plan filled with locally implementable and nationally replicable solutions.

This plan is available for your communities use.

A salute to The Charlotte Bridge Home and thanks for their leadership in showing the way to put our commitment to our veterans into effective action.

[1]http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/12/24/3745917/nonprofit-connects-soldiers-to.html#.UpYhDOJGYyg

[2] Coming Home Assessment Report For Charlotte-Mecklenburg final 5-26.pdf,

[3]http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/03/14/185880/millions-went-to-war-in-iraq-afghanistan.html

[4] calculation made based on figures found at 

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/03/14/185880/millions-went-to-war-in-iraq-afghanistan.html

[5] The population of Mecklenburg N.C. is 969,031, according to the US censushttp://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/37/37119.html.From that same source, we see that 25% are under 18 years old. This leaves 75% of 969,031, or 726,773 adults. 55,000 veterans divided by 726,773 = 7.5%, or 1 in 13 adults.

[6] Coming Home Assessment Report For Charlotte-Mecklenburg final 5-26.pdf Page 2. 8% of the adult population = 1 in 12.

 [7] Coming Home Assessment Report For Charlotte-Mecklenburg final 5-26.pdf Page 2

[8] Coming Home Assessment Report For Charlotte-Mecklenburg final 5-26.pdf Page 3

[9] Coming Home Assessment Report For Charlotte-Mecklenburg final 5-26.pdf Page 2

[10] I took the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment number from their website 

and divided it into the rate contained on page 4 of the Coming Home report.

[11]http://www.vba.va.gov/reports/mmwr/

[12] Phone conversation Ms. Cindy Basenspiler, Charlotte Bridge Homes November 27 2013

 

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