Every year on Veterans Day, newspapers write lofty editorials about our veterans and the debts we owe them. Many communities hold wreath-laying ceremonies or other events. Perhaps in our own families, we think to call the grandparent, uncle or others who served and tell them we are thinking about them.

Then, satisfied that we've done our patriotic duty, we happily go on our way.

Which is not to imply we shouldn't do those things.

In fact, we have encouraged families and individuals to attend annual observances in the Greater New Milford area, most of them held Thursday, Nov. 11.

Veterans deserve the honor of ceremony. But that is the least of what they deserve, and too often it is the most that they receive.

We owe them so much more.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs works mightily to see to our veterans' medical needs, and through programs like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, helps many with education and housing costs.

But the sad and very unpatriotic fact is that we have repeatedly asked our young men and women to walk into hell for us. And too often we've turned our backs when the time came to give them the tools to stitch their broken lives back together.

According to the U.S. Interagency Council on the Homeless, 23 percent of this nation's homeless population are veterans, and a full third of male homeless Americans are veterans. Nearly half of them served during Vietnam, while others served in conflicts from World War II up through Afghanistan and Iraq.

That is a national shame that no parade can erase.

The VA estimates that on any particular night, there are 107,000 homeless veterans out there. Furthermore, about 1.5 million others are considered to be in danger of becoming homeless.

This is but one of many problems, including mental illness, our veterans are struggling to overcome.

They need our help. They are owed our help.

Truly supporting our troops requires so much more than just slapping yellow-ribbon magnets on our cars.

One way to start is by visiting the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans at www.nchv.org/index.cfm, where you can find information on how to donate and other ways to help.