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Radioman: Revealing Systemic Racism's Impact on Military Veterans' Rights and Mental Health Crisis

Updated: Dec 23, 2023

As a Desert Storm/Desert Shield veteran who later became the Voice of the Navy in media, I have navigated both the challenges of combat and the complexities of civilian life. However, the struggle with my worsening health conditions, coupled with caring for my visually impaired brother and elderly mother, has brought to light the harsh realities many veterans face, especially when dealing with inadequate housing and systemic injustices.


The growing housing crisis, particularly in areas where affordable options are scarce, has highlighted the plight of essential workers, including veterans, who are increasingly priced out of the cities they serve. This issue is not just a local problem; it's reflective of a national crisis, where even with substantial funding directed towards programs like SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families), homelessness among veterans has distressingly risen by 7.3% in 2023, as reported by Axios. We often dump funding into an already bottlenecked system.


This situation is further exacerbated by systemic racism and inequalities within the military and Veteran Affairs, affecting BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ veterans disproportionately. NPR's investigation into racial bias in military discipline and a lawsuit alleging systemic discrimination against Black veterans by Veteran Affairs, as reported by CNN, underscore the urgent need for reforms. These issues not only create a disparity in disciplinary actions but also in accessing crucial VA health benefits, often leading to financial and mental health crises for many veterans.

The delay in addressing veteran claims and the backlog in the VA system, highlighted by Dayton Daily News, is a testament to the need for multifaceted solutions. This issue affects countless veterans, who, despite their sacrifices, face a convoluted process to access their rightfully earned support. The struggle for benefits often mirrors the mental and physical challenges faced in service, if not surpassing them.


In addition to the struggles highlighted in the previous section, there is a crucial need to address the systemic challenges veterans face upon reintegration into civilian life, particularly those experiencing homelessness or in transition. Veterans in transition, a term that I prefer to use, often face a complex maze of issues, encompassing both physical and psychological challenges, magnified by the bureaucratic hurdles in accessing VA benefits and services. The Dayton Daily News article on the VA backlog underscores the need for a multifaceted approach to support our veterans efficiently.


One solution I propose is establishing call centers in every major city dedicated to employing homeless veterans or those in transition. These call centers can serve multiple purposes:


1. Employment Opportunities: Providing stable employment for veterans, allowing them to utilize their skills and discipline acquired during service. This would help in their financial stability and reintegration into the workforce. A transition program the gives the ability to fill in the positions that the VA is so desperately in need of.

3. Community Engagement: By employing veterans in transition, these call centers create a community of peers who understand each other's experiences, fostering a supportive environment conducive to mental and emotional recovery.

4. Advocacy and Awareness: These centers can also play a crucial role in raising awareness about the challenges veterans face and advocate for policy changes or additional resources where needed.

5. Training and Development: Providing training programs for skill development and career advancement, ensuring veterans have the opportunity for personal and professional growth. A revision of the current Vocational and rehabilitation program. Currently is does not include training for Peer Recovery Support, Certified Addiction Counselors which are great careers that don't require a college degree.

6. Mental Health Support: Incorporating mental health support within these centers, providing counseling and resources to address the psychological challenges faced by veterans. Everyone one the VA Toll Free Support Line should be trained in Mental Health First Aid for Veterans.

7. Linking with Local Resources: Collaborating with local businesses, NGOs, and government agencies to provide a network of support and opportunities for veterans.

This approach not only addresses the immediate need for employment among veterans in transition but also creates a systemic support network, empowering them to navigate post-service life more effectively. By investing in such initiatives, we honor the service of our veterans by providing them with the tools and opportunities they need to thrive in civilian life.

In conclusion, the military, as an institution of honor, must confront and rectify these systemic inequalities. It's imperative to ensure that every individual, regardless of race or orientation, is treated with the respect and support they deserve. The fight for equitable treatment within the military and fair access to benefits is not just a veteran's issue; it's a matter of national integrity and security.


For more insights and details on these issues, please refer to the articles from NPR on [Racial Bias in Military Discipline]

[CNN's report on the discrimination lawsuit against Veteran Affairs](https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/30/us/va-black-veterans-discrimination-lawsuit-reaj/index.html), and Axios' report on [Homelessness in the U.S. in 2023]


Rev. Dr. Christian Frazier





Denied Benefits and Financial Struggles:

Even after dedicated service, accessing VA health benefits became an uphill battle, especially for Black veterans, a glaring issue highlighted by [NBC News' report]


The denial of these crucial benefits compounded financial hardships, necessitating legal battles at our expense for what we rightfully earned.


Mental Health Toll and Governmental Neglect

The toll of these injustices extends far beyond financial strain. Waiting for benefits plunged many into a mental health crisis, grappling with homelessness and despair, worsened by a bureaucratic system ill-equipped to address our pressing needs. Tragically, many suffer worsening symptoms or dire outcomes before resolutions arrive.


The Urgent Need for Change

This recurring cycle of disparities, denied benefits, and ensuing mental health crises cannot endure. It's an urgent plea for reform—demanding fair disciplinary practices, equitable access to benefits, and expedited support for those in desperate situations.


In Conclusion:

The military, an institution built on honor and sacrifice, must confront the systemic inequalities within its ranks. The ongoing discrimination against BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals, the denial of earned benefits, and the resulting mental health crises starkly contradict the values we swore to uphold and defend.


(References: [NPR: Racial Bias in Military Discipline](https://www.npr.org/2021/08/22/1028765938/racial-bias-military-discipline-national-security-combat-readiness), [NBC News: Denial of VA Health Benefits to Black Veterans




As I reflect on these issues, I'm committed to advocating for change within the military, ensuring that every individual, irrespective of race or orientation, receives the dignity, respect, and support we all rightfully deserve.


Rev. Dr. Christian Frazier



Radioman -


The role of a Radioman in the Navy traces back to a pivotal era when communication at sea was revolutionized. Initially, Radiomen were responsible for transmitting and decoding crucial messages using Morse code and early radio equipment. Their expertise was instrumental during conflicts like World War I and II, where swift and secure communication was vital for naval operations. Over time, technological advancements reshaped this role, transitioning from manual Morse code operations to more sophisticated communication systems. This evolution led to the birth of Information Systems Technicians, encompassing a broader spectrum of responsibilities beyond traditional radio operations. Today, these professionals handle a myriad of complex systems, including satellite communication, cybersecurity, network administration, and data management, reflecting the transformation from Radioman to Information Systems personnel in the Navy.

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