A study by the DAV found Veterans feel let down. The next step is putting in place programs that lead to a change.
Special for PTSDJournal By DAV Staff
In November 2015, Disabled American Veterans released a nationwide survey of veterans spanning all eras to gauge how military service affected their lives. Like many organizations dedicated to supporting American troops, DAV searches for information and ways to help soldiers get better.
The DAV Veterans Pulse Survey was such an endeavor. The survey uncovered several key findings, including the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on veterans’ well-being. Four out of every ten respondents said mental health was one of the biggest challenges facing veterans today, and nearly the same amount said PTSD was the chief hurdle veterans had to overcome.
“We conducted this survey to promote a deeper understanding of veterans’ perceptions and experiences, so DAV, the government and the American public can do a better job helping veterans succeed,” said Marc Burgess, DAV National Adjutant. “What we learned is that while veterans are proud of their military service, there are major gaps in the support and benefits they receive.”
The survey uncovered some nuances among veterans who served in different eras. Three out of 10 post-9/11 veterans said their military service negatively impacted their mental health, while those numbers were lower for pre-9/11 veterans—those who served in Vietnam, Korea and World War II. The vast majority of veterans surveyed, about 87 percent, said they believe the federal government should provide a health care system—to include comprehensive mental health care—explicitly dedicated to the needs of ill and injured veterans. But, half of those surveyed said they do not believe the government is currently living up to its promise of providing quality, accessible health care to veterans.
Another hurdle veterans face is accessing the care and benefits they have earned. Just 37 percent of respondents said they knew what benefits they are eligible for and how to access them. Less than half said they received their promised veterans’ benefits. Only 18 percent of veterans surveyed said they believed that disabled veterans, including those with invisible wounds like PTSD, have received the proper benefits.
The DAV wants to prevent these types of problems. It is the only nonprofit that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations, helping them access benefits they earned, such as health care and disability, and connecting them to meaningful employment opportunities. DAV is one of the largest nonprofit veterans service organizations in the nation. The charity supports more than 1 million veterans in life-changing ways every year.
“The survey shows veterans of every generation are proud of their military service and believe it had a positive impact on their life, even though many paid the price,” says Burgess, who is also the CEO of DAV. “Yet the results also point to major gaps in the support, health care, and disability benefits they receive. It’s clear our government and country need to step up and keep the promises made to America’s veterans.”
The complete DAV survey is available at VeteransPulse.com.