Veterans Day: Tributes and criticism

Monday is Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Britain, Belgium, France and the Commonwealth nations. This year's occasions were marked by a blend of tributes to the troops, critiques of how we are treating our returning soldiers and, as always, a bit of politics.

In the Guardian, Alex Andreou writes about the death of a friend who was a homeless veteran - one of the estimated 10 percent of London homeless who are former military. "At this time of year, we pay our respects to all those who lost their lives in battle," he writes. "Few think of those who lost personal wars, long after those battles have been won; those who came back missing a part of them that is invisible, but as fundamental as a limb."

Several writers tried to explain why unemployment among recent combat veterans is so high. According to former National Security Advisor Jim Jones and Dan Goldberg, executive director of the Call of Duty Endowment, the cause is persistent stereotypes that "every veteran is either a hero or damaged".

Sally Satel and Richard J McNally build on this theme in the Atlantic, contrasting the picture of the Vietnam-era veteran as a troubled loner - made famous in movies like Rambo, Taxi Driver and the Deer Hunter - with the work being done by activists from the Iraq war generation.

One such veteran advocate, Chris Marvin, writes in the Washington Post that the transition from soldier to civilian is a difficult one. He notes that he once struggled with what to say when people thanked him for his service. Now, he writes, "I look them in the eye and say, 'You're welcome.'"

It seems that the outreach efforts may be working. Although the suicide rate among military veterans is higher than the national average, there's some interesting information hidden in the statistics. The BBC's David Botti looks into these numbers and discovers that most veteran suicides (69%) take place among those over the age of 50.

Many veterans of earlier generations were reluctant to talk about their experiences. On CNN.com, James Kindall writes about his father, who suffered in silence. "My father respected the sentiment behind Veterans Day," he writes, "but it wasn't an observance he enjoyed."

Bill Sternberg also writes about his father, telling the story of the last days of a World War II veteran in USA Today. "I'm sure if you had told him when he landed in France in 1944 that he'd get out of the war alive, have another 69 good years and six really bad weeks at the end, he'd have taken that deal in a New York minute.

Of course, politics has a way of creeping into everything, and Veterans Day is no exception.

Kurt Schlichter does not waste any time taking the gloves off. He criticises Democrats who he says group veterans in with "liberal-voting deadbeats feeding off Uncle Sucker". But, he adds, there are veterans who are guilty of government dependency, as well. The "'professional vets' you see demanding handouts are, at best, exploiting their long-ago service," he writes.

In Mother Jones, Erika Eichelberger writes that at least 900,000 veterans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. "Republicans will salute America's veterans Monday," she writes, "while simultaneously trying to deny them benefits."