Our veterans deserve better | Editorial

The housing crisis has been a well-documented nightmare for islanders.

Take a quick search on our website with the keyword housing and you will find a plethora of fears and very few solutions.

Veterans in the San Juans struggling to find a place to live are in the same boat, and federal funds have thrown us a lifesaver for veterans facing homelessness in Washington state. Last week, Catholic Community Services of Western Washington received $776,000 and the Opportunity Council received $704,000.

Unfortunately, this lifesaver functions more like water wings rather than a durable life raft. The funds are for emergency short-term housing, leaving us to wonder: how helpful will such money be in our community? The answer is: not very.

First of all, even people who make a decent wage can’t find a place to rent. If there are no houses or apartments, what is the $704,000 going to go toward? Secondly, this is a short-term solution to a long-term problem without any attention paid to prevention.

We would also like to see funding go to the first step for all people when building a life for the future: healthcare.

In the recent roundtable discussion on San Juan Island with Rep. Rick Larsen, veterans had one issue – healthcare. They brought with them pages of documentation of phone calls made that were never returned of bills not paid or appointments never made. These were the same concerns that I heard from veterans when I worked as a freelance journalist in Oregon five years ago.

Having access to healthcare enables veterans to go to work, and then in turn pay bills. These funds from the feds are not going to solve these larger issues.

Larsen has applauded these recent monies to end homelessness, but at the roundtable he pledged to follow-up with vets on their concerns about healthcare and programs for better access to doctors.

Larsen said in a recent press release that they have already opened 20 cases with the Department of Veterans Affairs that were brought up during the roundtable discussions.

We need members of Congress like Larsen to continue to fight for our vets to make healthcare a priority.

I want to see millions of dollars poured into allowing veterans to see any doctor they want and make appointments anytime they need. We are still waiting for that press release.