FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Millions of Soldiers and Veterans in Serious Trouble

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

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
David Swanson
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail