Over the next several days, residents of Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, like millions of others across this country, will honor the men and women who served their nation in war and peace-time, in combat or support services.

And, as this issue of The Times shows, there are many ways to do so, including the Sherwood Veterans Day Ceremony, which is a moving event for all participants, and the Veterans Recognition Breakfast at the Juanita Pohl Center in Tualatin.

Veterans Day is an important holiday, but this year, as our nation prepares for a new generation of soldiers to return from war, it’s again a sobering one.

It’s now clear that whoever is in the White House next year, most of our 68,000 troops now stationed in Afghanistan will be coming home in 2014.

And it’s also clear that they will face significant challenges.

A disproportionate number of veterans, who make up about 13 percent of the population, end up battling substance abuse, domestic violence and mental illness. Government officials estimate that a third of all homeless people and a fifth of all suicide victims in the United States are veterans.

Compounding those problems is the lack of jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last week that veterans’ unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent in October, which is good news. But the same report showed that the unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans nudged up last month, from 9.7 percent to 10 percent, putting it well above the national rate of 7.9 percent.

For the past several months, we’ve heard politicians at all levels pledge their support to our nation’s veterans.

The real test will come after the ballots are counted and Veterans Day tributes are over. Voting is a key component of the democratic process, but it’s only one. Those charged with helping our veterans find services and jobs need to hear from us more than once every four years.

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