Are America's Wounded Troops Getting A Square Deal?

President Teddy Roosevelt once said,  “A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterward.”

With the patriotic Memorial Day holiday approaching, now is the perfect time to ask if our troops who have shed their blood in Afghanistan or Iraq are being properly thanked for their sacrifice.

The answer, sadly, is no.

Consider the case of Marine Christopher Chaput, from New Bern, NC. Christopher took a body full of shrapnel while hunting down terrorists in Afghanistan in September 2009.

While trying to recover from his painful wounds, Christopher says, he and his wife Kimberly were evicted, their cars were repossessed and “we were lucky if we ate once a day.”

Then Kimberly got pregnant, and they were facing a second eviction.

How could such a travesty happen to an American hero like Christopher Chaput . . . and his wife and baby? I’ll answer that in two words: Government bureaucracy.

Christopher and Kimberly were evicted while waiting for his government disability check to be processed – the disability check he earned by shedding his blood for our country.

At this very moment the same nightmarish situation may be happening to thousands of other severely wounded troops. According to a report by the Military, America’s veterans and wounded troops have to wait an average of six months for their first disability check to arrive after leaving the hospital and being separated from the military. Meanwhile they are facing evictions, home foreclosures, car repossessions, utility cutoffs – you name it.

Is that any way to treat a wounded hero? Of course not. And as a Guns & Patriots reader I know you agree. 

What a great Memorial Day gift it would be if our government announced this problem would be fixed, pronto – and that Congress would not get another paycheck until our wounded troops were getting THEIR disability checks on time.

As someone who assists our troops seriously injured in Afghanistan or Iraq, I can tell you these military families are getting more and more desperate every day.

It’s not just the long wait for disability checks. Most of these families can’t afford caregivers for their loved one who has been paralyzed or blinded by a sniper’s bullet or severely burned or brain-damaged by a roadside bomb. So their spouse quits their job to care for them. Their family income plummets – and suddenly they are facing an eviction or scrambling to feed their children.

Over the past few months my colleagues at the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes have received heartbreaking phone calls like these from our severely wounded Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen.

•    “I am one paycheck away from homelessness.”

•    “We are running out of food, the phone bill needs to be paid and the lights were turned off this week.”

•    “We have exhausted all the family’s resources, and we pray you will assist us.”

None of these things should be happening to any wounded hero, any time of year. But Memorial Day, when we pause to remember the brave Americans who sacrificed their lives for our country, is a perfect time to vow to help our wounded heroes as well.

The good news is the American people are incredibly generous, especially when it comes to our men and women in uniform. When the government lets our wounded heroes down, we run to the rescue by contributing to the private charities dedicated to serving those who have served – and suffered – for our nation.

So, what can you do to thank our severely wounded troops and their families this Memorial Day?

You can contact your elected officials and ask them to start giving our wounded heroes a square deal, financially speaking.

As for a solution a little closer to home, how about taking a wounded hero out to a ballgame or movie on Memorial Day, or inviting him or her to your backyard barbecue? If you live near a VA hospital I’m sure they could use a volunteer with strong hands and a warm heart.

And any wounded hero or veteran would be thrilled to receive a personal visit, phone call or greeting card with this simple, heartfelt message: “Thank you for your service to our country!”

I can promise whatever you decide will be deeply appreciated by our severely wounded troops and their loved ones this Memorial Day. After all, they were there for us, and now it’s our turn to be there for them.