What the United States needs to do to compensate veterans
By The Schoolcraft Connection Editorial Staff
After risking their lives in war, veterans are welcomed home with little gratification. Veterans across the country suffer from homelessness and mental disorders every year, and the U.S. does not do enough to aid them. How can a country spend so much money on sending our brothers and sisters to war and neglect them in their postwar trauma? Physically and mentally injured soldiers should be looked at as a cost of war, and these soldiers should be compensated accordingly.
Mental illness tends to be persistent in post war life. Many diseases plague veterans, mainly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD.
According to the United States National Library of Medicine, “Almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, as many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans, [and] 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan [suffer from mental illness].”
Such high percentages of returned troops having mental issues are a clear warning to our country that something needs to be changed.
Part of the issue is the separation and isolation from society that many veterans experience; while civilians can rely on their friends and family, many veterans feel totally alone or lost.
Veterans need to have a place and group of people they can gain support from; therefore, more support groups need to be formed for veterans specifically, because they will be able to relate to other veterans better than they could relate to average people.
Many veterans also often don’t have college degrees or relevant job experience due to their time in the service. This means that there are fewer job opportunities for them. Because many vets are unable to find sufficient work and income, many unfortunately end up homeless.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homeless veterans tend to be 91 percent male, 98 percent are single, 76 percent live in the city and 54 percent have a mental and/or physical disability.
About 1.4 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing, and approximately 49,933 (8.6 percent of) veterans were homeless on any given night in 2014 in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Programs like Hiring Our Heroes, run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have made progress, holding job fairs for veterans throughout the country. However, there are many more veterans than there are open jobs. According to pbs.org on March 20, 2014, there is a nine percent unemployment rate for veterans, while the unemployment for the nation is only at seven percent.
Sometimes, all someone needs is a companion that will listen and provide comfort. For veterans suffering from post-war trauma, a service dog can be just that. Service dogs are not exactly easy to register, because people take advantage of the system. People simply register their dog as a service animal to get easy benefits without the necessity, making it harder for people who actually need the animal. Also, since many veterans’ disabilities are mental health based, they cannot be seen on the outside, so they are subject to discrimination for not actually needing the animal. In order to help veterans excel in society, service dogs need to be more widely accepted in all areas and monitored more to be registered to only those who need them.
In addition to treating mental health issues, employability needs to be taken care of. Free workshops on resume making and building, money management and other essential life skills need to be offered and encouraged for veterans to attend. An opportunity to take classes at the collegiate level should also be offered so soldiers can prepare for a career in the U.S.
Schoolcraft College actually offers a great resource for all veterans on campus in the McDowell Center. There, vets can get help with the application process, academic advising, communication with the Department of Veteran Affairs and more. For more information, visit schooclraft.edu.
The post cost of war to care for veterans has to be budgeted better by the government. Most Americans would never go out to eat at a restaurant without the intent of being able to pay a fair tip in addition to their meals, so why should the government only budget for the actual war and not for the well being of the soldiers who made it possible? If situations for veterans can be improved in the U.S., this country could be a more rightly proud nation.