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An estimated 39.7 million people live in poverty, according to the 2017 Census, a significant demonstration of how much work needs to be done to address the unacceptable and structural inequality that have relegated many people to the margins of society.

Our safety net has not effectively delivered for the millions who are still trying to escape the clutches of inequality, and cities which, like Detroit, exemplify massive poverty underscore why during Thanksgiving we should remember families who are less fortunate. We should go beyond families and friends during Thanksgiving and think also of sick and aged neighbors and the struggling men and women on the streets who are barely surviving because of circumstances outside of their control.

More: Michigan incomes edge up, still trail pre-recession levels

We’ve seen a widening gap between the rich and the poor in a nation endowed with so many riches. The problem isn’t our lack of resources to help provide a consistent and reliable safety net for struggling families. The issue is our lack of will. 

That’s why this Thanksgiving should be a time for us to think hard about what we do regarding that neglected class in our society. They are looking for some good Samaritans, on Thanksgiving but also beyond the festivities to help them meet the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing.

Among that neglected class is some of our vulnerable veterans who are homeless and unemployed. Care for them always escapes policy debates in the legislative halls of power and only resurfaces during presidential and gubernatorial elections. Even at town hall meetings where politicians are often held to account to deliver on the bread and butter issues, not much is often discussed regarding addressing the critical need of health care and employment for veterans.

It is unconscionable that those who have made the ultimate sacrifice return home sometimes to no room at the inn and their issues deliberately ignored by political leaders who make empty promises to veteran groups when seeking office.

Ken Huxley, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who oversees the veteran program at Strategic Staffing Solutions, told me in an interview that more care should be given to our veterans.

Calling it, “an egregious disservice to those men and women who have served our country faithfully,” Huxley said we are obliged to answer the call to help the 3.9 million veterans living from paycheck to paycheck. 

He is correct. Veteran care should be a top priority for our elected officials. There are many veterans in Detroit and Wayne County who are living in poverty and whose challenges demand the highest attention of our elected officials, yet some choose to only discuss veteran welfare on Veterans Day.

The America and the Detroit we long for should be one where people including veterans are economically secured and are guaranteed a future regardless of their background or station in life.

While some of us will be feasting on yet another Thanksgiving with plenty of food and wine without pain, let’s remember that there are countless families including women and children who will be disappointed again this year because Thanksgiving brings a feeling of being left out.

To these families, Thanksgiving is just one more day in their daily struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table for their innocent children.

We can do better as a country.

bankole@bankolethompson.com

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at 11:00 a.m. weekdays on Superstation 910AM.

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