Memorial Day means a lot of good things in American parlance- summer, beach days, American flags everywhere you look, swim parties, picnics, potato salad and pretty little desserts. It also means remembering the veterans, thanking the servicemen, and almost a maudlin ode to war and bravery.

As a pacifist, I am not a big fan of celebrating war and warmongers, even though I think being a solider is an honorable life. To lay your life for liberty of others is indeed brave or foolish, depending on your perspective. My year in San Diego, especially immersed in the world of social innovation has brought me in close awareness of the plight of our veterans. San Diego county has around 2000 homeless veterans. They are on every street corner, panhandling occasionally, mostly huddled up like a bundle of clothes that can make one cry. I feel ashamed to share this, but most times I hesitate to park my shiny car near them. I am afraid if I were them, I would definitely key it.

This Memorial Day, let’s take an unsentimental look at statistics. For a moment, forget about the financial impact of war.

  • 18 veterans commit die by suicide everyday. That is twice the rate of general of population in the US.
  • 32 more attempt suicide everyday but fail to die.
  • 20% of suicides in the US are by veterans.
  • 33% of homeless Americans are veterans. On any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are in a shelter or on the streets.
  • 76% of homeless veterans suffer from mental health and substance abuse problems.

Stop sentimentalizing and glorifying military service. Do not just thank people who served in the military. Do something concrete. What can you do to help?

Do not thank the servicemen and women. Easy to say today and forget tomorrow. Instead, do something concrete this year.

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  1. Kay says:

    I completely agree with you, Latha.

    I wish people in Congress who vote for war would acknowledge that they are voting for someone else’s sons and daughters to fight–often kids from families that are not well-off. And these wars are not at all the way they’re made to seem in TV ads, as though soldiers just sit at consoles and play high-end video games. Slogging through Iraq or Afghanistan is nothing like those ads.

    Thank you for the wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, this is really eye opening! I live in Canada and even we seem to have an issue when it comes to taking care of our veterans. It’s such a shame, isn’t it?


  3. Lesley says:

    I’m no fan of war but I do honor and respect the men and women who fight for us, they are incredibly brave. We need to take better care of our vets, they have given so much for us, its the least we could do.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nicola Gill says:

    I have a friend who served his country and has lost many of his military mates through suicide, and those statistics are a sad reminder of the reality of what is really happening. This is a broader issue, and not just isolated to the USA.

    Liked by 1 person

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