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The Problems Facing America’s Veterans

The Problems Facing America’s Veterans

I began working with war Veterans suffering from trauma as a psyche officer in Vietnam. When I came home, I spent the next four decades helping Vets readjust as they came home from war. From Vietnam to the Gulf War, Bosnia, Iraq and now Afghanistan. In that time, I counseled many Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and became one of the pioneers in diagnosing and treating the condition.  

In 1985, I founded the National Veterans Foundation. We provide a toll-free Lifeline for Vets™ 365-days-a-year, where Veterans can call for help with any problem, and speak to fellow Veterans who are trained to be of help.  

And many of our nation’s Veterans need tremendous help. With more and more Iraq and Afghanistan troops returning home everyday without adequate support services, many are struggling with readjusting to civilian life after multiple tours and so much time in the combat zone. 

Some of the main issues facing today’s Veterans:

Veteran unemployment is nearly twice the national average. Young Veterans who joined the military after high school and went off to war are at a disadvantage when competing for civilian jobs with peers who didn’t serve.  Vets often don’t have easily translatable civilian skills, nor do they have the network of civilian business and social contacts that other young people have. Unless they apply with companies who place a priority on hiring Veterans, they are in a tough spot competing with other job seekers. 

One out of every three Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans suffers from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or a combination of the two due to combat trauma. Upon returning home, our troops are not receiving proper medical and psychological evaluation or counseling. It’s up to them to seek the help they need and often this help is not easy to find or to access. 

There is a backlog of 1.2 million claims at the Veterans Administration.  The VA application process remains complicated and adversarial. Veterans are not automatically enrolled in the VA, as many people think, when they finish their military service. They need help finding VA facilities, completing complicated applications, managing the application process and appealing rejected claims. Many Veterans who are disabled and unable to work due to war trauma are waiting months and years for benefits they were promised and have earned. This results in many Vets with significant financial problems that can end up homeless or worse.

A third of all homeless citizens in America are Veterans.   Due to many of the factors discussed here, Veterans with distinguished, even heroic, military records are ending up living on the streets. Because of untreated PTSD or TBI and self medication with drugs and alcohol, many Veterans are finding themselves in conflict with the criminal justice system. Special Veterans Courts are the appropriate response to these problems. These courts take into consideration a Vet’s military service and the war experiences and lack of readjustment services that cause them to engage in anti-social behaviors.  Veterans’ courts focus on treatment and rehabilitation rather than jail time.  Unfortunately, only a handful of these courts exist in the U.S.

For 25 years, The National Veterans Foundation has helped our brother and sister Veterans with these problems and more. In that time, we have served more that 350,000 Vets and their family members.  

Unfortunately with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Veteran population continues to grow, and so do the problems with which our Vets need help.   While the NVF has a proud, quarter-century history of serving America’s Veterans, the next 25 years will be even busier, and more important. 

If you know of a Veteran in need of help, please have them call the Lifeline for Vets™ at 888-777-4443.

Related Stories: 

Immigrant Vets Face Deportation

Female Veterans More Likely to Commit Suicide

Disabled Veteran and His Dog Targeted by City Officials


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Photo credit: Paul Lowry via flickr
By Shad Meshad at National Veterans Foundation

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7:33AM PDT on Apr 14, 2014

The VA & SSA continue to be Overly Adversarial & Abusive to Disabled Veterans. Why else is this 100% "Service-Connected" (1987) DISABLED American veteran still fighting the SSA & VA for benefits promised, but not delivered ? Google: KENNETH TENNANT ( Domestic Terrorism: USA vs Veterans and the First Amendment ) & You Tube: AMERICAN VETERAN: Discarded and Forgotten. This Gov't Sponsored Criminal Activity TERRORIZED my wife, children and family members. PLEASE SHARE this ongoing story

10:32AM PST on Nov 26, 2013

very insightful!

10:37AM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

It's upsetting, a soldier's reward. To lay your life on the life, in return for what?

6:26AM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

The ugly underbelly of American society is that we yell, "USA! USA!" but don't take care of our troops upon their return home. Disgusting and disappointing to say the least.

3:55PM PST on Dec 1, 2012

Hi there, thank you for such a great post. I am actually writing a research paper/social action paper for a college writing class about this topic and the overwhelming number of soldiers returning from war and not having enough health care providers for them. Laura B...I would love to hear more of your stories and if you would not mind, I would like to site you in my paper. Please reply if this is okay with you. I would greatly appreciate it. Also, it would be beneficial for citation purposes if you could tell me your last name. Thanks! :)

7:57PM PDT on Oct 26, 2012

It is true ,VA is not a good administrator

6:03PM PST on Dec 4, 2011

As a community we have to come together and support our veterans. They need jobs, they need friends. So many people are quick to say they support the troops and veterans. I say action speaks louder than words.

5:02PM PST on Nov 12, 2011

All veterans should be communicated with the people who belong to their interest on regular basis. For e.g Vateran interested in software related stuff should be linked to a individual to share update the latest updates in the field. This will help them get the job they want after the return from the veteran job. Also a complete physical and mental rheraphy/advise should be provided to every one who come back to USA.

4:06PM PST on Mar 7, 2011

My brother is a Vietname veteran, and is 100% disabled. His nerves are what got him disabled, and he wound up with a pace maker and defib machine, and many hernias and barrets esophagus, and Parkinsons and Crohns disease, and now his legs and arms are a bluidh brown color, and his legs are leaking. The Va in Delaware took his teeth out 2 years ago. They said it takes time to make a plate for him, that others are on the list too. They just sent him a letter saying he does not qualify for help 2 hours per day 2 days per week. No explanation for it either.

1:42PM PST on Jan 16, 2011

This country talks alot of crap about those who serve and have served. The truth is how they treat those who did the dirty work but are discarded once they can no longer be used. Pay attention people.

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