What We Owe Our Veterans

We have been fighting wars ever since the Revolutionary War in 1775.

Every war brings up the controversial topic of what we owe our veterans. Most of us will readily agree that we have a lot to offer our veterans and the least we owe them is respec. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of when is too much, too much. Whereas some are convinced that we owe our veterans, others maintain that we owe our veterans much more than what we are giving them. Veterans have a lot of programs put in place to helps them and are entitled to a lot of benefits but American veterans ~ particularly those that have service-related injuries ~ deserve better. This nation acknowledges the debt we owe these men and women that have made a huge contribution to our lives. Lawmakers and citizens should be working together to ensure that our efforts don’t undermine a veterans’ recovery. By looking at our past, the experiences of today’s veterans and by examining the contradictory incentives created by policies we can develop a support system more helpful to those that are America’s defenders.

Life in the military has many benefits within its self.

For example, the structure it provides. From the minute enlistees arrive at training camp their daily lives are planned out from them from what they are required to wear to the activities they are doing each day. Even after training camp, a soldier knows that they have a secure job with an income, on-base housing is provided, grocery and school are all in one location. When these men and women are discharged whether being medically discharged or finishing a contract, they have to now figure this out on their own. Depending on their age, they may need to get another job to provide themselves with a steady income. They need to find housing and figure it all out on their own. While military life provides many benefits, not everyone serves for their whole life so returning to civilian life.

One major effect of returning to civilian life is the risk of homelessness and unemployment. Returning veterans who become homeless usually are facing mental health problems and/or economic hardships. While the rate of homeless veterans has decreased dramatically to the point where it was lower than the national rate, it should never have been an issue in the first place. We should already have policies in place to prevent that. A major player in veteran’s unemployment and lack of housing is post-traumatic stress disorder. When soldiers return home they are evaluated on their physical and psychological state despite that there are still many cases of PTSD that go undetected. PTSD often leads to self-medication and substance abuse which then continue the cycle of unemployment and homelessness. The most common treatments for PTSD are certain medications for anxiety and sleeping disorders or therapy and the issue with that is the VA tends to overprescribe medications for everything. We owe it to our veterans to find a better way to help these men and women readjust to society and one way we can do that is investing more into finding better treatments for those grappling with PTSD. Therefore when they return and recover they have a better chance of starting their life over again.

The biggest negative effect of the military is the effects of an injury. When we often think of injury we associate it with losing a limb when in reality to be disabled or injured can be physical, mental, or emotional. No matter what kind of disability one faces, the Department of Veteran Affairs tries to compensate for them for their injuries and their overall cost of service. When a soldier is severely injured like losing a limb it affects him/her financially and emotionally. The VA tries to cover most of the costs of the hospital visits, possible surgeries, and rehab treatments but they don’t always cover everything. Those extra expenses add up and add up quickly. The financial strain on this individual can impact their relationships like putting a strain on familial or marital relationships.

Along with VA compensations, the Department of Veteran affairs compensates for disabilities based on an average loss of earning that would have been expected of the individual. The issue with this assessment is that it doesn’t take the individual’s circumstance into consideration. When a soldier seeks compensation there are other factors that should be considered, such as the amount of family support they have, education potential, and anything else that their injury can prevent them from doing. This then brings up the topic of incentives policies will provide. Some policies will give a soldier an option to receive compensation at a 100% disability rate but they can’t work. This incentive gives the soldier the option t not have to adjust to going to work every day. These policies influence a soldier to choose disability over work. The issue I have with this is that we should be encouraging our soldiers to recover and rejoin society. When a worker chooses disability over work they are going to have a harder time adjusting to society because they won’t be meeting people, they will be isolated to home and from a psychological standpoint, they are going from having a purpose to not having one at all. By paying veterans to be disabled we are asking for me people to want to be disabled, increasing veterans unemployed.

When we create policies and programs to assist our veterans we owe it to them to take into consideration whether they will help them integrate into society and prove for themselves. We should be encouraging them to be there best selves, not subsidizing them into unemployment. We should have housing and job providing programs provided for them until they can get stably on their feet again. We need to keep in mind that veterans have been serving and protecting society for ages it is time that we serve and protect them.