Military vets constitute 700,000 of the nearly 2.5 million incarcerated citizens in the United States. While men and women are being sent to kill people half a world away, for reasons that are seldomly justified and arguably drummed up, returning veterans are fallen victim to alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness and unstable housing. These statistics serve as reminders; that our actions speak louder than our words ever will.
One in six returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from a substance abuse disorder [since 2004], the number of veterans treated for mental illness and substance abuse has increased 38 percent, 81 percent of arrested veterans had a substance abuse problem and nearly 58,000 [veterans] are estimated to be homeless on any given night.
These numbers offer a glimpse into a harsh reality where American citizens place their lives on the line, only to be forgotten by their country, upon returning home.
Consigned to the dustbins of society; prisons and jails, these vets are hoping that the first national Vet Court Conference in Washington, which brings together 1,000 judges, mental health and substance abuse professionals and the leadership of the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments will help many of the them get their lives back on track.