Dear Editor:

It's a disgrace the way our government treats its veterans. It's amazing that we have anyone left who wants to join the military. The pay is horrible, and our best soldiers are being sent back to Iraq and Afghanistan again and again, ill equipped, and killing themselves at a record rate. Hundreds and thousands of applications for veteran's benefits are absent-mindedly backlogged. Homelessness and unemployment among veterans are much higher than the rest of the population. The conditions at the VA hospitals are disgraceful. To top off this terrible list, the Obama Administration has started labeling veterans as "potential terrorists."

The U.S. military repeatedly sends young men and women back to the Middle East over and over again with no regard about the consequences. A shocking 20 percent of active duty soldiers are on at least a third tour of duty; many others have been on four or more. These multiple tours of duty are taking their toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. This has never happened before in all of the U.S. history for men to be sent back so many times into combat.

Suicide rates are at record highs in 2012 because our soldiers spend too much time in active war zones. The stress of combat duty builds up over time, and they can't take it anymore and commit suicide.

One soldier has to pay a $21 shipping fee to get his purple heart. Instead of the military honor of a formal ceremony, a veteran who served 24 years got his reward through the mail and had to pay the shipping fee COD.

Veterans returning home find it very complicated when applying for benefits. The application consists of 23 complicated pages, and it there is even one mistake made, the application process can be held up for years.

The Veterans Affairs has a policy that gives their employees large bonuses if they meet a certain number of application goals. That's why 70 percent of the claims submitted were sent back to be redone. Through the Freedom of Information Act, it was discovered that $250,000 was paid out in bonuses to Veterans Affairs employees in one year to those employees who worked at the Poff Federal Building in Roanoke, Va.

The average claim wait is 180 to 300 days. Claims processed in Oakland, California (the second worst backlogged region of our country) take about a year to get accepted or denied.

It takes an average of seven months to get an appointment into a VA facility, and our veterans are not getting the care they need.

Funerals in some areas of the country are banning the words God and Jesus from the veterans' funeral services.

The Obama Administrations Department of Homeland Security has labeled veterans as "potential terrorists." Once a military person is determined to be mentally ill, he or she can be rounded up by the authorities at any time. One study discovered that about one-third of all military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are determined to be mentally ill.

In 2009, a Veterans Affairs office in Detroit turned in 16,000 applications of unprocessed mail and 717 unprocessed documents that were stuck in storage and not even looked at. Many other documents were found in shredding bins in several offices. Multiple thousands of veterans who should be given benefits are being denied. One veteran who had 40 percent of his brain removed was found to be healthy and employable. He was also missing his right arm. The physician who examined him "overlooked" his arm and "failed to take note" of his cognitive degeneration that his traumatic brain injury caused.

Happy Veterans Day!

Faye Ruckhardt

Nesquehoning