FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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

More articles by:

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

January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
Roberto J. González
Starting Them Young: Is Facebook Hooking Children on Social Media?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Between the Null and the Void
Andrew Levine
Trump After Bannon: What Next?
John Davis
Mud-Slide
Ajamu Baraka
The Responsibility to Protect the World … from the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Stirs the Methane Monster
Paul Street
Lazy Liberals and “the Trump Effect”
Carmen Rodriguez
Trump’s Attack on Salvadoran Migrants
Mike Whitney
Oprah for President, Really?
Francisco Cabanillas
The Hurricane After Maria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail