The us government should alter the current policies involving veterans

Barriers to care after civilian reentry further disadvantage this already vulnerable population. The United States Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs must take steps to improve access to mental health care for these veterans. Although APHA has issued a few policy statements on mental health, many are quite dated, and therefore APHA has called for new policy proposals to fill this gap.

The us government should alter the current policies involving veterans

Gade Summer In the years since the United States was drawn into a global war on terrorism by the attacks of September 11,Americans have made significant commitments to support the men and women who have served on the front lines of the conflict.

Tens of thousands of charities have contributed billions of dollars — and millions of volunteers have spent countless hours — assisting veterans and their families. The federal government has made an even larger investment, providing a host of services — including health care, education and job-training programs, and home loans — to those returning from war.

Few Americans question the propriety of these efforts to aid our nation's men and women in uniform. The desire to help veterans in need reflects a fitting gratitude for service rendered and sacrifices shouldered.

But precisely because we know we owe our veterans a great debt, we tend not to question the particular ways in which our government goes about helping them.

We therefore pay far too little attention to whether these efforts might actually be doing more harm than good. And there is reason to believe that, in many cases, well-intentioned programs to support veterans are instead preventing them from enjoying healthy, productive civilian lives after they return from war.

This is particularly true of federal policies intended to help wounded and disabled veterans. There are many reasons for this increase, but a major factor is surely the design of VA benefit policies, which distort incentives and encourage veterans to live off of government support instead of working to their full capability.

Adding to the problem is a culture of low expectations, fostered by the misguided understanding of "disability" upon which both federal policy and private philanthropy are often based.

The result is that, for many veterans, a state of dependency that should be temporary instead becomes permanent. America's veterans — particularly those with disabilities related to their service — deserve better.

Because of the debt the nation owes these men and women, and because of the talent and experience they can contribute to our economy and society, both lawmakers and citizens should ensure that our efforts to support veterans do not undermine their recovery. By looking at the experiences of today's veterans, and by examining the perverse incentives created by current policies and charitable practices, we can develop a support system more helpful to, and more worthy of, America's defenders.

In the particular case of wounded veterans, it is worth examining what types of injuries and conditions they are dealing with — and how prevalent those conditions truly are — to gain a more complete understanding of the problem of "disability" that government policies and private charity must address.

First, the modern military is composed entirely of volunteers, and, as a self-selected group, they are not a representative cross-section of society.

The us government should alter the current policies involving veterans

As a statistical matter, they are more educated than the typical American: With very few exceptions, they are high-school graduates or have GEDs. Many even in the enlisted ranks have some college education.

Moreover, because the military's current medical and physical-fitness standards are relatively rigorous, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are both physically and mentally healthier than the population at large. It is also worth noting that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have involved record levels of Reserve and National Guard forces, who are typically somewhat older and even more educated than the active force.

These men and women are also more fully integrated into civilian life. Second, the combat experience of today's veterans is markedly different from that of veterans of most previous wars. With a few exceptions — the initial invasion of Iraq, the first and second battles of Fallujah, Baghdad during the "surge," isolated pockets of the fighting in Afghanistan, and a few other episodes — today's veterans have faced conflicts characterized by chronic, low-to-moderate levels of violence rather than by dramatic, high-intensity battles.

At the same time, they have operated chiefly in theaters with no front lines and where civilians have been mixed in with combatants. This means today's veterans have often been more exposed to civilian suffering and less sure of their adversaries, which has produced distinctive psychological effects.

Third, the social environment that has awaited veterans after their service is different today than it was for some previous generations of veterans. By and large, the civilian population is now accepting of veterans and thankful for their service.

This "Sea of Goodwill," as former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen labeled it, encompasses employers, community leaders, government officials at all levels, academics, health-care professionals, and other grateful citizens.

In contrast with the experience of Vietnam veterans, today's returning soldiers and recently discharged veterans have received a warm welcome home.

Fourth, although the number of veterans to be re-integrated is high, it is still dramatically lower than in previous wars. As of last year, fewer than 2. This figure is significantly smaller especially as a percentage of the population than the 3.

Finally, returning troops also tend to be better off financially than their civilian peers. Both the earnings and overall incomes of veterans are higher than those of non-veterans. Among women, the advantage for veterans was even greater.Manage your policy online, file claims for benefits, and access helpful resources.

Burials and Memorials Get help planning a burial in a VA national cemetery, order a headstone or other memorial item to honor a Veteran's service, and apply for survivor and dependent benefits.

The VA does not widely offer evidence-based vocational rehabilitation services for veterans with PTSD. Current policies and services are not in line with clinical evidence-based practices or psychiatric rehabilitation principles and The US Government Accountability Office also has recommended fundamental change, informed by current.

Policy & Legislation

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• The US Congress should fully fund the needs of veterans in Department of Veterans Affairs programs. • The Department of Veterans Affairs should improve retention and recruitment of health personnel in the VA health system and consider including veteran care facilities in the National Health Service Corps.

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The us government should alter the current policies involving veterans

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A Better Way to Help Veterans | National Affairs