There are nearly 24 million American military veterans and approximately 1.5 million active-duty servicemembers. An additional 650,000 men and women voluntarily serve in the various state national guards and the services’ active reserve components, and are therefore subject to call-up to active duty.
Thousands of others have had their active-duty commitments involuntarily extended or been recalled from the Individual (inactive) Ready Reserve after serving their obligated enlistments. Nearly 1.7 million servicemembers have served in the Southwest Asia theater (especially Iraq and Afghanistan). Veterans and their families account for nearly one-third of the population of the United States.
Here are the statistics.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are increasingly costly in deaths, wounds and illnesses. Recent statistics show a military death count of more than 4,500. Those who have been wounded, been injured or become ill exceed 75,000. Some 320,000 (20 percent of troops deployed) already have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Some 300,000 (18 percent of troops deployed) already have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The approximately 1.5 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have had characteristics and experiences that are both the same as and different from those of their brothers and sisters from Vietnam.
The average combat soldier is 26 (in Vietnam he or she was 19, in World War II also 26). More than at any time except World War II, troops have been called up, from the National Guard and the Reserve and also from the Individual Ready Reserve. This means many soldiers have been jerked out of fairly stable lives, and often more than once. In particular, it means many have been taken from jobs that they will want to regain after discharge.
Among those called up, professionals and small business owners have been particularly likely to suffer financial disaster. Veterans for America understands this problem.
Veterans and servicemembers are traumatized, with no help in sight.
Once home, servicemembers with medical problems find new difficulties that add to their own trauma. Treatment facilities are limited, especially for TBI (traumatic brain injury, the “signature wound” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and especially in areas where National Guard and Reserve troops live. Little is known about TBI, but public pressure has forced DoD and the VA to commit increased resources to it.
In addition, servicemembers awaiting the complex system of separation for medical reasons often have to wait far from home for four to ten months, often without family or organized military support. Disciplinary problems are common among these idle troops, often ending in a bad discharge or inadequate disability rating. The Department of Defense (DoD) has promised to fix these problems, but many doubt its resolve to invest the necessary funds.
This report exposes the bureaucracy that’s making it hard for veterans and servicemembers to get what they need – what they’re entitled to. Veterans for America understands this problem and this survival guide is a comprehensive guide that can help you cut through the bureaucracy.
- Basic Survival Skills
- The Department of Veterans Affairs
- Service‐Connected Compensation
- Need‐Based Pension for Low‐Income Veterans or Survivors
- Explaining the VA Claims and Appeals Process
- VA Attempts to Recover “Overpayments”
- Educational Assistance and Vocational Rehabilitation
- VA Housing Programs
- VA Medical Care
- VA Programs for Veterans’ Family Members and Survivors
- Employment, Self‐Employment and the Small Business Administration
- Re‐Employment Rights and Associated Rights for Time Spent in Military Service
- Homeless Veteran Programs
- Veterans in the Criminal Justice System
- Upgrading Less‐Than‐Fully‐Honorable Discharges
- Correcting Military Records and Related Issues
- Getting Your Military Records
- Early Discharge or Separation
- Disability Separation and Retirement
- Advice for Families and Caregivers of Wounded Servicemembers and Veterans
- The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
- Benefits for Active‐Duty Servicemembers’ Families
- Voting Rights Issues
- National Guard and Reserve Call‐Up Issues
- Family Law Issues for Servicemembers
- Women Servicemembers and Veterans
- Overview of the Uniform Code of Military Justice
- Immigration, Obtaining U.S. Citizenship through Military Service