Bernie Sanders Makes Brutally Honest Point About Vets During GOP Debate

by John Haltiwanger

You can always count on Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders to speak his mind. His blunt disposition was on full display during the fourth Republican presidential debate on Tuesday evening.

On Twitter, Sanders lambasted the Republican candidates on an array of topics, from the minimum wage to Social Security. But his most brutally honest and pertinent point came on the subject of veterans and America's failure to properly honor their service and sacrifice.

We already have the biggest military in the world, yet veterans sleep out on the streets. Will Republicans talk about this? #GOPDebate — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 11, 2015

Senator Sanders was absolutely correct and he highlighted this shameful truth just in time for Veterans Day.

The United States does not have "the biggest military in the world," as Sanders put it, in a strict sense. In terms of active military personnel, for example, China has the US beat.

But when it comes to overall military strength, no country surpasses the United States. In September, Credit Suisse released a report on globalization that ranked the US military as the most powerful in the world. The reported stated:

Our analysis reveals the military superiority of the United States in conventional war capabilities compared to its close rivals. Its fleet of 13,900 aircraft, 920 attack helicopters, 20 aircraft carriers and 72 submarines far outweighs the military might of any of its close rivals and so does its defense spending worth USD 610 bn in 2014, which is far more than the combined military expenditures of the next nine countries in our index.

Accordingly, we can forgive Senator Sanders for his choice of words and concentrate on the broader and more important point he was trying to make.

The US spends more on defense than any other country in the world and it excels at warfare. But when the people who fight its wars return home they often end up homeless.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 12 percent of the adult homeless population are veterans. Moreover, on any given night there are close to 50,000 homeless veterans on the street.

If the US can afford to send people off to war, it can certainly afford to take care of them when they come home. There's no excuse for the number of veterans living on America's streets.

As we celebrate Veterans Day and commemorate the service of America's veterans, let's also remember all the ways we've failed them as a society. We can and should do better.

Citations: Homeless Veterans (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans), The worlds 20 strongest militaries (Business Insider), The end of globalization or a more multipolar world (Credit Suisse)