SCOTCH PLAINS – On Monday, state Assemblywoman Linda Stender highlighted the need for a change in the way Washington D.C. treats our veterans. Stender, a Democrat from Scotch Plains, is seeking Rep. Mike Ferguson’s seat representing New Jersey’s 7th District in Congress.
“‘Supporting the troops’ shouldn’t simply be a slogan, nor should our support end when these soldiers come back to American soil,” said Stender. “We must be prepared to honor our commitments to an entire generation of brave men and women returning home from war – especially those who need assistance re-adjusting to civilian life or who were wounded in the line of duty. I will fight to provide for those who have risked their lives and personal safety with the benefits they’ve earned and the help they’ve been promised.”
Stender supports legislation creating a “GI Bill for the 21st Century” to provide comprehensive educational benefits for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. H.R. 2702 would make sure that veterans have the resources needed to succeed in our modern world. The legislation would provide up to four years of tuition, books and fees, plus a monthly stipend.
“When America’s greatest generation returned home from World War II, the first GI bill helped our veterans receive an education, take care of their families and chart their future,” said Stender. “Today, Congress should continue to provide our men and women in uniform with opportunities and assistance worthy of their sacrifice. When our soldiers return home from war, we should help them get a leg up, not turn our backs on them. ”
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans across the United States are homeless on any given night. Recent studies found that 6,500 of New Jersey’s veterans are homeless, and over 12,000 more are on the brink of homelessness. Policy experts are warning of increased rates of homelessness among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, based on the hundreds of veterans already seeking assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Moreover, higher than expected rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, in conjunction with large numbers of veterans paying over 50% of their income on rent, have triggered alarm among advocates for both veterans and the homeless.
“We must stand with our veterans in their time of need, just as they have stood up for us in the line of battle,” said Stender. “With young soldiers being denied healthcare, having trouble finding jobs or paying for school and even living on the streets – it is crystal clear that we need a change in Washington. A good start would be getting rid of the bureaucratic backlog that is stopping disabled veterans from getting the care and respect they have earned.”