During my summer quarter at Western Washington University, I took a sociology class on social stratification which examines the social causes and consequences of inequality in America on the perspective of social distribution of wealth, power and status. For my group project near the end of the quarter, we chose veterans as our general topic, and we did our research on inequalities among U.S. retired and active-duty military members. We found surprising statistics that indicate the severity of inequities that veterans face. In a series of blog posts, I will share what we found.
Nation of War
The U.S. initiated the Iraq war from 2003 to 2011 and the Afghanistan war from 2001 to present. Currently, the U.S. is also participating in the Syrian war. Since the existence of the country, there have only been 20 years when this country was not participating in war. At $618.8 billion in 2016, military spending accounted for more than 53 percent of the federal discretionary budget. The U.S. leads the world in military spending. If you combine all of the military budgets of every country in this world, the U.S. has half of the total. There are 1,000 U.S. military bases worldwide.
A Peek into the Veterans Homeless Population Boost after 9/11
Nearly half of veterans who are homeless served after 9/11. After the Vietnam War, it took 5-10 years for veterans to end up on the streets. There are 3.3 million veterans who have served since 9/11. Among veterans who are homeless, 47.6 percent are under the age of 35. It takes less than 3 months after discharge to end up on the streets. Along with homelessness, post 9/11 retired veterans have the highest percentage of service-connected disability, at 34.1 percent.
In my next blog post, I will examine and demonstrate U.S. government’s role of addressing the issue of homelessness among veterans.
Written by Kexin Cherie Zeng
WWU student, Sociology Department.
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