Today is set aside to show gratitude to every man or woman who has donned the uniform. Today we put aside talking about the 535 elected officials who work at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and give thanks to every man and woman who chose to serve and protect this incredible country. These veterans are our true heroes. This 1% of Americans chose to protect the other 99%
We are saying farewell to our WWII vets at an alarming rate. There are 18 million veterans living in the United States, which is down considerably from the 24 million in 2000. The most significant contributor to this drop is our lost World War II veterans. There were nearly 6 million of the Greatest Generation still with us in 2000, and that number dropped to 500,000 in 2018. All veterans are exceptional, but we must cherish those who saved the world by serving in Europe and the Pacific to protect us from German and Japanese aggression.
Veteran services need to be the finest available and easily accessible for every person who served. The VA hospitals need to be staffed at a level that ensures speedy and effective relief, and the ability to use VA benefits at every hospital needs to be guaranteed. No cost should be spared to take care of and thank our veterans.
Two saddest facts about our veterans are the 22 veterans who choose suicide as their only option daily and the 37,000 veterans who find themselves homeless. Both of these situations are unacceptable and preventable. If our government gave the veterans half the attention they provide to the illegals flooding our Southern Border, we could eradicate these statistics. Fortunately, we have tremendous NGOs like the Wounded Warrior Project and Tunnels to Towers who generate attention and resources for our veterans, first responders, and their families who need services or housing. These private organizations and the public support they muster make up for what our government fails to do.
We have had an all-volunteer military since the 70s, and unfortunately, the number of young people choosing to serve in our armed services is declining yearly. We must make military service attractive, a combination of how they are treated during and after their active duty. When their commitment ends, ours should begin. We also need to stop the effort to make our military more woke. They do not need to be Woke. They need to be feared. A strong military is our best deterrent from conflict.
Veterans deserve not only our thanks and respect but also our support. Our military deserves compensation at a level commensurate with the private sector. There should never be any consideration for a Congressional pay raise unless it includes the same for our military. No military family should ever qualify for food stamps or assistance. That is a crime.
Our military and veterans are the essential security of our freedom and country. It is apolitical and ready to serve no matter what party is in power. As we say thanks, we must ensure that our military is equipped and prepared to meet any challenge and that no veteran is ever forgotten. We thank you, love you, and pray that God watches over you.