Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Do we do enough for our Veterans?

On a day to remember our veterans, let’s all take a moment to remember what they have truly given up. When the “everyday” person thinks of what our veterans have given up, I would bet that they have sacrificed time, their life, or some sort of physical ability, which many Veterans do indeed do; however I would like to address the emotional damages many of our Veterans face though statistics, a personal experience, and discuss if the government is offering our Veterans everything they need to get back to everyday life.
After coming back home, many veterans struggle with getting used to everyday life as well as the emotional damaged they suffered on tour.  Did you know that one in every two United States veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan know a service member who has either attempted or committed suicide? According to RAND, at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression.  50% of those with PTSD do not seek treatment. Out of the half that do seek treatment, only half of them get "minimally adequate" treatment (RAND study).
Jamuel Breeze is a veteran who served two tours in Iraq and was just 18 years old when he deployed the first time. During his service, he had an emotional break down due to being away from home and being in a place where people wanted to kill him. He was put on suicide watch for three days, was put on medication and had to see a psychiatrist for the rest of his deployment. However, his emotional distress didn’t go away after he came home. Breeze soon faced financial and emotional crises. Luckily for Breeze he reached out to the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America). This non- profit organization helps veterans with emotional, financial, career, and educational needs/problems. Breeze stated that “after that phone call [to IAVA] I got five resources, three of which were fruitful to help me get a lot of things handled, helped me with financial hardship — it felt really good.”
After hearing about this story, I asked myself, why did Breeze go to a non-profit organization? Doesn’t the government have programs that are essentially just like the ones the IAVA offer for Veterans?
Upon some further research I discovered that the government does offer some benefits for Veterans such as the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (which is a cabinet level department) which contains one of the better known benefits to Veterans, the GI bill (Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments of tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It was available to every veteran who had been on active duty during the war years for at least one-hundred twenty days and had not been dishonorably discharged; combat was not required), job training, emergency hotlines, and service dogs (however the VA only approves service dogs for those who are blind and deaf; however this could change to include those who suffer from emotional trauma).
Do you think that the American Government gives Veterans enough benefits? Why or Why not?
Do you think that the American government should offer more programs to help Veterans get a hold of their emotional problems? Why or why not?


1 comment:

Emily Shen said...

The VA scandal last year shows that one of the largest shortcomings of our program dedicated to helping veterans is related to one of its most basic, important functions — providing medical care (see This clearly needs to be prioritized.

Other than that, I believe the U.S. government does a pretty comprehensive job addressing the needs of veterans — we do, after all, have an entire department dedicated to their welfare. I think the issue actually lies with the American public as a whole — especially those who don't have loved ones who serve. There's a pretty overwhelming lack of recognition and ignorance for the deeds of our veterans. Sure, we get the day off — but what do we do with our time? A lot of American retailers take advantage of the fact that people have the day off on Memorial and Veterans Day by having sales because they are hoping to attract people who have time off from work — especially during Veterans Day when people are starting to do their holiday shopping. As much as I love sales, this kind of annoys me because it shifts the focus of an actually important holiday.