In this bulletin, we will be discussing the topic of Veterans Affairs. The rise in both homeless veterans and veterans suffering from serious mental health conditions are rapidly growing as a profound issue within American households, and US politics are shifting focus towards veterans more and more.
This bulletin is your source important definitions regarding veterans affairs, along with its history, articles, videos, statistics and questions to ponder regarding the issue.
Veteran: A person who has served in the military.
Affairs: Matters of commercial or public interest or concern.
Deployment: The movement of troops into position for military action.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A mental health condition involving anxiety and flashbacks triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event.
The GI Bill: A law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans, still known notably today for assistance in college tuition for military families.
Pension: A regular payment made during someone’s retirement from an investment fund to which that person or their employer has contributed during their working life.
Discharge: The legal release or removal of a person in the military.
Prosthetics: The making or fitting of artificial body parts.
Hegemonic Masculinity: The promotion of the dominant social position of men, and the subordinate social position of women.
The United States has arguably the most comprehensive history of a system for assisting veterans in the world, with roots tracing all the way back to 1636. Our nation saw the Continental Congress of 1776 provide pensions for enlisted soldiers who had suffered from disabilities. The year of 1818 also saw the first medical facility specifically created for Veterans. More recently, in the 19th, century, the nation’s Veterans’ assistance program expanded to not only include benefits for Veterans, but for their widows and dependents as well. As the years have passed, we as a nation have focused the lens more and more on the return of our soldiers. From Family Readiness programs, to funding for physical and therapeutic treatment, our nations’ soldiers are definitely taken care of. The question is, is it enough?
The United States’ entrance into World War I saw Congress administer various federal agencies devoted to benefits for veterans, including the Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. World War I saw a fully mechanized war for the first time in our history, with soldiers being exposed to mustard gas and other fumes and chemicals. Respiratory problems and tuberculosis plagued our troops, and neuro-physiatrist hospitals opened to help our soldiers.
Our history of veteran’s affairs involved more than just provided medical services for our returning troops however. It also incorporated heaps of benefits for soldiers and their dependents regarding education. The GI Bill was enacted and signed into law on June 22, 1944. The vast increase in the Veteran population following World War II was due to the benefits of the GI Bill, offering paid tuition to any enlisted soldiers and their dependents. This bill has had a massive impact and is still in use today; as many soldiers around the world are able to put themselves and those they care for in a classroom environment with expenses paid for.
Veterans have faced enormous amounts of discrimination upon returning from deployment, especially when regarding controversial warfare. A prime example of this was The Vietnam War. The Vietnam War saw the largest proportion of African American soldiers ever to serve in an American War. These soldiers faced waves of resistance and racism from their combat counterparts. In addition, upon return in 1975, troops received no parades or hoorays in the streets. They were spat on, criticized, and put through emotional and verbal abuse from American citizens. The veterans were treated like outcasts, blamed for a war they didn’t start and accused of killing innocent children and being “dope heads,” Not the most glamorous homecoming for a soldier after 40 years of warfare.
Whether it be good, or bad, veterans and how we treat them will always be engraved in America’s history.
Homeless Veterans: Stand Down
- Veterans make up 12% of the adult homeless population
- 70% of homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse, while 50% experience mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which makes it harder to maintain relationships and hold down a job
- The unemployment rate of Post 9-11 veterans is 6.2%
- The average homeless veteran ends up living on the streets 8 to 9 times the length of their deployments
- There are currently over 2 million female veterans in the United States
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
- How does the amount of emphasis we put on veterans in our country affect you?
- What can we do as a society to ensure that those returning from war have all the resources and opportunities necessary to recover and reconnect with civilian life?
- How can I be supportive of the veteran community?