Millions of Soldiers and Veterans in Serious Trouble

by

Despite the July 4 tributes, millions of US soldiers and veterans are in serious trouble.

Twenty two veterans kill themselves every day according to the Veterans Administration.   A study by the Los Angeles Times found veterans are more than twice as likely as other civilians to commit suicide.  Suicides among full-time soldiers, especially among male soldiers, are also well above the national civilian rate.  USA Today reported a suicide rate of 19.9 per 100,000 for civilian men compared to rates of 31.8 per 100,000 for male soldiers and 34.2 per 100,000 for men in the National Guard.

Over 57,000 veterans are homeless on any given night according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Unemployment is much higher among post 911 veterans than the general population according to the Department of Labor.

More than 1.4 million veterans are living below the poverty line according to US Senate report, and another 1.4 million are just above the line.  Of veterans between the ages of 18 and 34, 12.5 percent are living in poverty.

Over 900,000 veterans live in households which receive food stamps reports the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  The use of food stamps by active duty service members appears to be at an all-time high, according to CNN.   In addition, many active duty service families receive a special military supplemental food allowance designed to replace food stamps for low income service families.

The VA reports over 3.5 million veterans are receiving disability benefits and well over 350,000 more survivors of veterans are receiving death benefits.   More than 1.3 million are Gulf War vets, higher numbers than any previous war.   Benefits run from just over a hundred dollars a month to three thousand per month.

Hundreds of thousands more vets are applying for help from the VA.  The VA reported they have 555,180 open and pending disability and pension claims.  Over a quarter million, 268,348, have been waiting more than 125 days.  It was also announced by Nextgov that as many as 300,000 disability claims filed electronically in 2013 are incomplete and starting to expire.  Additionally, over a quarter million vets are appealing their disability claims decisions.  A veteran’s appeal of a claim denied by the VA takes an average of 923 days to complete the appeal process.

Veteran care, which has been much in the news recently for its well documented problems, includes services such as medical care for over 6.4 million people a year, compensation for 4 million veterans, survivors and children, education benefits for 700,000, guaranteed housing loans for 629,000.  VA programs cost $354 billion in 2013.

There has been a surge in demand by veterans for mental health services since returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, with some local providers in California reporting increases of 40 to 60 percent in the numbers of vets seeking mental health treatment.  The VA reported to Congress that over 11 percent of its health care was directed to mental health care as opposed to just over 7 percent for the rest of the US population.

Between 2000 and 2011 nearly one million vets were diagnosed with at least one psychological disorder and almost half had multiple disorders, according to a 2014 report of the Institute for Medicine.  In another report, the Institute says an estimated 8 percent of current and former service members deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis.  Other congressional reports indicate national numbers of vets using mental health to be well over a million.  The VA spends over $3 billion a year on PTSD treatment annually but collect little information about the effectiveness or whether treatments are successful.

This is shameful.

Bill Quigley teaches at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
stclair
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Greg Fulton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana