What Is The Public Attitude Towards The American Veteran

American VeteransThe public attitude towards the American Veteran varies depending on the political landscape.  Generally, the facts about the American Veteran often receives special treatment in their respective countries due to the sacrifices they made during wars. Different countries handle this differently: some openly support veterans through government programs, while others ignore them. Veterans are also subject to illnesses directly related to their military service such as PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) and suicide.  Generally American Veterans are treated with great respect and honor for their service and bravery.  The exception to that was the returning soldiers from the Viet Nam war.

Conversely there are often negative feelings towards the veterans of foreign nations held long after the war is over.  An example  the post WWII German Nazi soldier, yet they are no less veterans of war than those of the winning side. There are exceptions. Veterans of unpopular or lost conflicts may be discriminated against. Veterans of short or small conflicts are often forgotten when the country fought bigger conflicts. In some countries with strong anti-military traditions, veterans are neither honored in any special way by the general public, nor have their dedicated Veterans Day as the United States does, although events are sometimes orchestrated by minority groups.

Honoring Veterans In The United States

Veterans Past and PresentIn the United States, the most common honor is for former armed services personnel. A veteran is one who has served in the armed forces, especially one who has served in combat. The National Guard and Reserve is included. It is especially applied to those who served for an entire career, usually of 20 years or more, but may be applied for someone who has only served one tour of duty. In the United States, both those who have served in combat or those who have retired from active duty are called military veterans.

President Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address, in 1865, declared: “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan“. The American Civil War produced veterans’ organizations, such as the Grand Army of the Republic and United Confederate Veterans. The treatment of veterans changed after the First World War. In the years following, discontented veterans became a source of instability. They could quickly organize and often had arms themselves.

The General Benefits Given to American Veterans

Veterans AdministrationFor federal medical benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, prior to 7 September 1980 the veteran must have served at least 180 days of active duty, after the above-mentioned date, the veteran must have served at least 24 months. However, if the veteran was medically discharged and receives a VA service-connected disability stipend, the time limits are not applicable.

After the Second World War most of the participating states set up elaborate veterans’ administrations. Within the United States, it was veterans groups, like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, that pushed for and got the G.I. Bill enacted. These gave veterans access to free or subsidized education and health care. The newly educated GIs created a significant economic impact, and with the aid of VA loans were able to buy housing and establish themselves as part of a growing American middle class.

Many veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have had to face challenges unique to warfare in the 21st century. One significant difference between OEF and OIF and previous wars is a greater dependence on reservists and repeat deployments. Up to 80% of troops deployed at the beginning of OEF were part of the National Guard and Reserve and about 40% of currently serving military members have been deployed more than once.  The contribution to greater stress came by virtue of those troops that were not steeped in the military culture (reservists), high redeployment rates, uncertainty and longer terms.  All of these factors contributed to difficult transition back to civilian life.

Health Effects of Military Service and Treatment for Veterans

Due to medical advances, warfare in the 21st century tends to yield more survivors with severe injuries which soldiers in previous wars would have died from.  This means that, though fewer service members die, more return from war with injuries more serious, and in turn more emotionally devastating, than ever before. Among these injuries is the increasingly common traumatic brain injury, or TBI, the effects of which can range from a mild concussion to amnesia and serious neurological damage.

The effect of active military service can be profound and lasting, and some veterans have found it difficult to adjust to normal life again. Crime, homelessness and suicide have increased since post Viet Nam summed up in a Times article showing a 53% increased in doctor referrals for Combat Stress.

Facts About Veteran Suicide

suicide preventionIn 2014, an average of 20 Veterans died from suicide each day.  6 of the 20 were users of VA services.  Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults, while Veterans constituted 8.5% of the US population.  Veterans accounted for 22% of all deaths from suicide and 9.7% of the population.

The Mental Health Foundation said that not enough was being done to care for the Afghanistan war veterans, and many “plunged into alcohol problems, crime and suicide” upon their return. Today, in the U.S., the suicide rate among veterans is 300% the national average.  They account for 30% of the suicides in the US annually.  VA Support services were found to be patchy from area to area.

Facts About Veteran Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress DisorderPost Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, or learning that a traumatic event has happened to a loved one. DSM5 defines a traumatic event as exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.  This condition affects a significant number of veterans. Studies involving veterans with combat-related PTSD indicate that between 4-17% of United States veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD while their counterparts in the United Kingdom have significantly lower number of just 3-6%.

The trauma that caused PTSD also may cause depression. If you have either of these mental health problems, it is possible you have the other. You may need to treat both of them.  New treatment programs are emerging to assist veterans suffering from post-combat mental health problems such as depression and PTSD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is becoming an important method for the treatment of mental health issues among veterans, and is currently considered the standard of care for depression and PTSD by the United States Department of Defense.

The symptoms of PSTD are wide and variable but may include Behavioral: agitation, irritability, hostility, hyper vigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation.  Psychological: flashback, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust.  Mood: loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness.  Sleep: insomnia or nightmares.  Other common symptoms: emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts.

Added Note: Veterans under the age of 25 are at higher risk for PTSD with an increased risk for drug use disorders, alcohol abuse disorders, and mental illnesses in general.

Getting Help For American Veterans

Veterans HealthNecessity has resulted in a number of sources of help being made available for veterans. Many of these are independent, charitable organizations, and in some countries the aftercare and rehabilitation services provided by Governments have been inadequate.  This may be because they do not wish to give attention to the negative effects of military service and the difficulties of readjustment to civilian life for it may have an adverse impact upon recruitment for their armed forces. Nevertheless, help is available and veterans should feel able to make contact and ask for assistance or advice to the broad network of organizations, and to appropriate legislators, without feeling that this is a weakness. Military service can be a profoundly unnatural experience and it is likely that some help may be needed in debriefing and rehabilitation into the community, whether it be medical, psychological, practical or financial. There were an estimated 57849 homeless veterans estimated in the United States during January 2013; or 12 percent of all homeless adults.  Fewer than 8 percent of homeless U.S. veterans are female.

The GI Bill For American Veterans

The GI BillThe GI Bill: Following World War II, there was a vast increase in the Veteran population, and Congress enacted large numbers of new benefits for war Veterans—the most significant of which was the World War II GI Bill, signed into law June 22, 1944.

The VA Home Loan Guaranty Program is the only provision of the original GI Bill that is still in force. Between the end of World War II and 1966, one-fifth of all single-family residences built were financed by the GI Bill for either World War II or Korean War Veterans.

To assist the Veteran between discharge and reemployment ~near region~, the 1944 GI Bill also provided unemployment benefits of $20 per week, for a maximum of 52 weeks. It was a lesser amount than the unemployment benefits available to non-veterans.

In 1946, Public Law 293 established the Department of Medicine and Surgery within VA, along with numerous other programs like the VA Voluntary Service.

The VA was elevated to a cabinet-level executive department by President Ronald Reagan in October 1988. The change took effect March 15, 1989, and administrative changes occurred at all levels.

VA’s Department of Medicine and Surgery, established in 1946, was re-designated as the Veterans Health Services and Research Administration at that time, though on May 7, 1991, the name was changed to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).