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From Richard D. Bonyak

By Staff | Nov 12, 2008

On November 11, we once gain celebrated Veterans Day. We will hang out our flags, maybe have a parade or two, make some speeches and honor our veterans. And then, just like hundreds of times before, we will put everything away and forget about our veterans until the next holiday when we want to say “Thank you”. We put them back on the shelf until it is convenient to “honor” them again.

What does our government really do for our veterans? The newspapers, magazines, and news broadcasts are full of stories about veterans unable to get necessary medical attention or decent employment. There are many stories about some veterans living on the streets. A veteran can use their “G.I. Bill” to get an education but then what?

In many cases they can only get part-time work at a fast-food restaurant or a mega size discount retail store.

There are some programs (example; ESGR Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves) that protect the jobs of the individual that has been “called up” with a National Guard or Reserve unit. But, are there any real effective programs in West Virginia that help a Veteran that entered the military just out of school get decent full-time employment once they are discharged?

Title 48, chapter 41 of the United States Code, an attempt to help veterans, was approved 10/19/99 and amended by Public Law 107-288-Nov.,7, 2002. Title 38 is titled “Veterans’ Benefits” and Public Law 107-288 is titles “Jobs for Veterans Act”. The Code and the Act appear to have been an attempt to help the veteran get employment but, they apply only to Federal employment. Good but, how many federal jobs are there available in West Virginia?

Everybody claims that we need teachers in West Virginia but many of the teaching positions seem to be limited to the southern part of the state. The northern panhandle counties have few to no teaching positions open and those positions that are available go to applicants that have or are already working in the county.

I wonder how many people realize or care how many millions of veterans there are that have served their/our country? In West Virginia alone, in 2007, there were 26,590 military/veteran auto license plates in use. Are veterans employed in positions that they want and deserve as guardians of our way of life? Are they getting the proper medical care that they earned?

We must do more that just give “political rhetoric” to our “honored” veterans. We, as a state, need to establish a support program that will honestly and actively help our Veterans to obtain and maintain a quality life in West Virginia.

Richard D. Bonyak

New Martinsville