Veterans Day is Monday, Nov. 11, and while this federal holiday is a great day to honor those who have served in the U.S. military, it is also time to consider ways to help active service members, veterans and their families.
In addition to the parades and speeches praising them for their service, another way to honor veterans is by helping those in need. We must invest in mental health care and research the causes of military suicides and provide annual mental health checks for service members.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential contender has a plan that will do this. Warren vowed on Tuesday to cut the suicide rate for veterans in half within four years, as part of a plan she unveiled to help service members and their families.
An average of 17 veterans commit suicide every day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2017, 6,139 veterans died by suicide, 129 more than in 2016 — a rate 1.5 times higher than for non-veteran adults.
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 as part of the Navy Reserve, has also advocated investing heavily in treating veterans’ mental health.
Warren also made support for military wives and families a key part of her plan, including increasing job and education opportunities for military spouses, especially on bases; investing in child-care centers and schools on bases; and improving military housing.
Both Warren and Buttigieg offer worthy plans that should be considered as ways to honor those who have served their nation.
Veterans also deserve timely health care and disability benefits when they leave active service. Veterans who served their country should not be stuck on long waiting lists.
We can also honor and assist our veterans by protecting them from predatory lenders. In 2006, Congress adopted a law that protects active-duty service members and their families from predatory loans. Lawmakers passed the Military Lending Act to stop payday lenders from making triple-digit interest rate loans that were trapping service members.
However, in the past year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reversed course by refusing to conduct preventative audits critical to enforcing the law. The bureau is the federal government’s primary civilian agency tasked with protecting consumers.
Lawmakers should stop efforts to undermine the bipartisan Military Lending Act. Instead Congress should expand the Military Lending Act by supporting the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act of 2019, which would extend financial protections that currently apply to active-duty service members to veterans, surviving family members and all consumers.
We must honor the nation’s veterans with all the assistance and services they so richly deserve.