America’s Neglected Veterans

Elijah Pond, photojournalist

Millions of old and disabled veterans are neglected, facing problems such as homelessness, nursing abuse, and suicide. These problems arise from their experiences in combat, which can cause them to develop debilitating conditions such as PTSD, depression, or physical disabilities. These afflictions make it harder for veterans to function as normal people in society, leading to situations in which their caretakers are unable or unwilling to provide for their specialized needs. While some action has been taken in recent years to get veterans the help they need, neglect remains to be a serious problem. “Old Uniform in the Woods” is a symbolic representation of the lack of care that former servicemen face.

Whether purposefully or unintentionally neglected, many veterans eventually find themselves without homes. “Homeless Vet Sleeps at Edge of Park” shows a former U.S. Army soldier sleeping by a fringe of trees. While this man refused to be named or photographed head-on, he told me that his problems began in 2003, during the Iraq War, when he received a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD. Since then, he has revolved between living with his family, in his car, and several homeless shelters. Like many veterans, he is unable to work traditional jobs due to his disorders. In general, veterans’ livelihoods suffer because they are not capable of providing for themselves.

Overall, veterans face not only neglect, but contempt. Many people raise the argument that if a veteran goes to war, he should suffer the consequences of his decision. While it is true that veterans make their own choices to enter combat, their neglect is still a failure of the government and society to care for its soldiers. “Fallen Flag at Veteran’s Grave” shows a soldier’s grave in disarray, representing the disdain some people feel for veterans, even in death.