La Strong

Challenges Facing Veterans

It doesn’t matter if you are an American veteran or from one of our allied nations. We all seem to have the same issues that we have to deal with as a result of our service. Some veterans will have to deal with all of these issues. Others may only have to deal with one as is the case with finding a job or starting a business once one has completed his/her service. The key here to dealing with all of these issues is to develop programs that provide more personalized attention for veterans and actually work to solve the problem.

1. PTS/PTSD/Emotional Issues/Suicide

Although there are many veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress and other issues as the result of war, there are many who have traumas, like me, that go back to childhood. Regardless of what trauma or traumas the veteran suffered, it is necessary to develop a treatment plan that helps the veteran to get better. Key here is for the veteran to identify his/her individualized trauma history. Once the traumas have been identified, then the veteran must work through each trauma.

This is almost impossible for many because the traumas are too painful to confront. To get past these, the focus needs to be on the feelings and emotions that resulted from the initial trauma. Expressing those feelings, whether to a trusted friend or counselor, or simply writing them down can help the veteran come to terms with those feelings and emotions.

Understand that this takes time, and this is a simplified version of how to handle the situation. This is the first step in dealing with these issues and resolving them. There are many free resources available on the internet to help veterans with this issue. These include Patriot Outreach, a site that offers a mindfulness meditation to deal with Post Traumatic Stress.

2. Benefits/Claims

Benefits vary from country to country with various procedures for handling benefits and claims. Veteran status also varies from country to country, and so it is necessary to consult the respective government agency in your country to find out what is available.

Solving the benefits and claims process requires a two-pronged approach. The first step is reforming the appropriate government departments so that those veterans who need benefits can apply for, and receive them. The other part of this process is to create private resources to help veterans. There are many organizations in place that will help veterans to receive their benefits. For our allies, it may be necessary to develop benefits programs, particularly those who have had their veterans’ status removed or weren’t granted veterans’ status because of non deployment.

3. Short Term Needs

Short term needs include paying bills, rent and utilities, food, health supplements etc…. What I learned from being homeless is that veterans have to compete for the same resources available in their communities that are also offered to civilians. Veterans must meet the same qualifications as civilians in order to receive these benefits. Often veterans have different needs or needs that are more unique to their service, and community programs cannot meet these needs.

Again, there are two ways to address this issue. The first is to develop programs through our governments to deal with these issues. Unfortunately, governments tend to produce one size fits all solutions to these problems. Developing private programs specifically for veterans can fill the gap and help veterans avoid having to compete for resources.

4. Homelessness

Homelessness is a problem for veterans worldwide. Resolving this issue is often difficult and complicated because it is often tied to alcohol and drug abuse as well as Post Traumatic Stress and other mental health issues veterans may have. Having a criminal record may also prevent a veteran from finding affordable housing or a landlord who will accept a veteran with a criminal record.

Solving this problem will require determining the root causes of the particular veteran’s reason for being homeless and then developing a personalized plan to help the veteran resolve this issue. Although government programs may need to be developed, and may even already exist, the same one size fits all solution is still in place.

5. Jobs/Businesses

Key to helping veterans overcome their problems is helping them find jobs or develop businesses that will help them have choices in every area of their lives. These options include healthcare, living conditions and overall well being as well as supporting their families. Developing programs that help veterans develop new skills or build businesses will help them to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Understanding the current economy helps veterans identify opportunities available to them to find the right jobs and businesses. Creating options for veterans is at the core of any programs developed as each veteran has different needs.

Identifying the issues veterans have problems with is easy. Solving those problems is much more difficult. A combination of both public and private organizations are needed to help veterans who need help to integrate back into society and access the resources they need. The more veterans who get involved in helping their fellow veterans, the faster these issues may be resolved.