In Their Words: "Coming Home" by Tash Shaheen
When I deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic with the U.S. Army National Guard in July 2005, I left Sarasota hopeful the U.S. could bring peace and prosperity to a land ravaged by centuries of war, terrorism and tyranny. I was encouraged by my encounters with the Afghan people. On security patrols, they would stop to ask us about American schools, markets and technology; as a U.S. soldier, I took pride in the American brand of normalcy they envisioned and hoped for. Since returning from Afghanistan, however, America has become a nation I barely recognize.
Millions of Americans across the country are struggling today to pay their mortgages, salvage their jobs, support their families; and veterans and military families are bearing the brunt of this hardship. Targeted by predatory subprime lenders, military towns are reporting a foreclosure rate four times today’s national average. As a result, far too many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are losing their homes within just months of returning from war.
As the economic crisis continues, the last thing our servicemembers should have to worry about is unemployment and foreclosure. This country has a moral obligation to ensure that those it asks to sacrifice on the front lines have the same economic opportunities as their civilian peers when they return home. This is just one of the reasons I took a stand in Washington, D.C. last week with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), one of the largest organizations leading the call for lawmakers to actively address these issues for veterans. During meetings with over 125 lawmakers on Capitol Hill, we outlined the challenges that my peers and I are facing. As a country, we need to remind Congress that America can ill-afford to abandon its warriors in this time of economic crisis. By investing in our veterans, America can inspire others around the world, as I remember we once did.
Tash Shaheen, a proud veteran of Afghanistan and spokesperson for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org), lives in Sarasota, Florida. To learn more about his trip to Washington, D.C. for Storm the Hill 2009, click here.
Posted by IAVA Staff on February 16
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