While there are many organizations that offer assistance for veterans there are some critical areas that are not adequately addressed in spite of this. Mental illness treatment, trauma and injury, and suicide prevention are all important topics in the veteran community and problems that many veterans either have faced or are currently facing now.
Homelessness and a lack of housing opportunities, the criminal justice system, and substance abuse are also areas where veterans could use more help and assistance. The facts and statistics for these topics include some surprising and shocking information, and shows that veterans are not being taken care of in these areas in spite of the resources available.
Mental Illness Treatment and Assistance for Veterans
The US Department of Veterans Affairs offers mental health services at VA facilities around the country but this assistance for veterans can have a long wait time before a mental health professional can be seen. In fact, a 2015 report showed that veterans still had unacceptably long wait times in order to receive this type for treatment from the federal government.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness also offers support and resources for veterans who are suffering from depression, PTSD, and other service related mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid also helps veterans who need mental health assistance and treatment. There are also a variety of online mental health resources and other organizations who can assist veterans in getting help.
Trauma and Injury Can Be Devastating to Veterans
Another area where more assistance for veterans is needed is in addressing trauma and injury. Approximately 1 in 10 veterans will suffer from some form of physical trauma and injury, and when mental trauma is included this number can be much higher. Just leading a quality life with dignity can be a big challenge for wounded and injured veterans.
One Forbes report indicates that more than 1 million veterans have been injured just in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The VA medical centers are overwhelmed and many veterans go without the care that they need and deserve as a result. Traumatic brain injuries, amputations or lost limbs, and burns are all common injuries suffered by veterans of these conflicts.
More Needs to be Done for Suicide Prevention Among Veterans
The high rate of veteran suicides shows that assistance for veterans in this area is still needed on a large scale. A study announced by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs just this month showed that every 72 minutes a veteran commits suicide, with 20 veterans dying from suicide every single day in 2014. The study examined “over 55 million Veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation.” Our veterans deserve better and are being neglected.
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act or Public Law 114-2 was passed by the 114th Congress in an effort to reduce the number of veteran suicides. This law outlines steps which are to be taken to ensure that all veterans receive quality mental health services when these are needed. This act was championed by veteran organizations throughout the US.
A Lack of Available Housing Assistance and Homeless Veterans
Assistance for veterans is still needed in housing and homelessness today, and the number of vets who face homelessness or problems finding suitable housing is still too high. This challenge can be especially problematic for female veterans who are often single parents with children. Many emergency housing facilities do not allow children, locking these women out of these housing opportunities.
The Criminal Justice System and Substance Abuse
There have been some special efforts in the criminal justice system to provide assistance for veterans who commit crimes, who have substance abuse problems, or both. The creation of veterans’ courts has helped to provide help and treatment while taking into consideration the special circumstances of veterans. These courts offer substance abuse help and diversion opportunities instead of incarceration.
Many veterans struggle with substance abuse because of service-related PTSD, military sexual trauma, TBI, or other experiences or injuries that occurred while in military service. Both the substance abuse and the underlying conditions must be treated so that the veteran can fully recover.
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