Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 8:56 am | Overcast 53º


Kids Speaking Up: Prop 12 to Give Veterans the Support They Deserve

California voters say yes — and thank you — to those who have fought for our freedom.

With the passing of Nov. 4, much change has arrived: the meaning of equality, foreign policy and who we trust to run our country. What has really been redefined, however, is our view for the future.

In a time of a failing economy and rising tension between countries, it becomes difficult to deal with the seemingly more trivial issues at home. Even then, controversial propositions such as Proposition 8 and Proposition 4 have eclipsed the importance of the smaller, but equally important propositions.

On any given night, there are nearly 200,000 homeless veterans in America, meaning veterans account for nearly a third of all homeless people in our nation. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and have difficulty returning to a “normal” life in society, thus having no choice but to live on the streets.

With the passing of Proposition 12, California will be able to continue issuing bonds to help house our veterans. Within the past 87 years, the Veterans’ Bond Act has been proposed and passed 26 times. What sets the 2008 bond apart is that it will be the most expensive, totaling a fiscal impact of $59 million per year. It pleases me to know that the expense doesn’t deter a great deal of people from voting yes.

There are 3 million personnel in the U.S. military, and just in the past five years, 1,102,369 people have fought in Iraq. For those who are lucky to come home to a family, they have an easier chance to re-enter society; however, those who have no one to return to must make it back their own way. To address that, Congress passed the G.I. Bill to help veterans buy homes or fund college education, but only a mere 8 percent are eligible to make use of the bill.

Last year, Dave Hassan, an Iraq War veteran, came to Dos Pueblos High School to speak with students. He said that many of the soldiers who decide to leave the military face resistance and are abandoned by the government.

He, himself, after having filed for conscientious objector status while stationed in Iraq, was immediately threatened with legal action. All soldiers have the right to refuse to take part in an illegal war, but many are persecuted for voicing such opinions.

Yes, today, there may no longer be things such as the draft or mandatory service. But for some, it’s the only way to college, or even an act of goodwill. No matter the reason or purpose, we as a country should warmly welcome those who return, mourn those who are lost, and remember them for fighting for the independence and freedom we strive for.

The Veterans’ Bond Act gives to those who the government does not: to those who refuse to fight because the war defies their beliefs or morals, and even to those with PTSD, whose problems have been classified as a mere change in behavior.

California is on the right road, thinking of those who have, are and will fight on behalf of this country.

Dos Pueblos High School sophomore Connie Phung is co-founder of Kids Speaking Up, a local group working to educate youth on social, national and political issues and inspire them to write.

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