Military veterans form a section of society that have given more of their life as sacrifice than most. Unfortunately, as Al Jazeera highlights, many veterans do not feel like their work has come to achieve much. This can create big impacts on returning home; a sense of value, and having had a good job, being key to feelings of security and happiness after service is over. While veterans may not always feel like they are returning home the victor, the American community is rallying around them to show them the love and support they deserve, regardless of the outcome.
One area in which much improvement has been required is veteran housing. In principle, veterans are guaranteed shelter – whether that be temporary, permanent, their own, or rented. Unfortunately, the events of 2020-21 have highlighted huge issues in the system; Military.com highlighted in March the potential for a huge surge in veteran homelessness. The good news is that many states have worked to try and rectify this. VA mortgage eligibility is rising across the USA, with instruments like the VA loan and Hero loan being deployed with much more discretion to help veterans find their feet in civilian life. This, in turn, is building blocks for their mental and physical recovery from war.
Veterans, perhaps unsurprisingly, have relatively high levels of alcohol and substance abuse. According to USA Today statistics, those levels reach 42% of all veterans. This is not an issue to be stigmatized, and rather should be helped – the horrors of war, and battle, can create dependencies with ease. Similarly, many veterans have been diagnosed with physical and mental disabilities that can make their independence difficult to obtain and keep hold of. USA Today highlighted one veteran who fought his way back with the help of his community, and highlighted the huge benefits of community and peer support to give a real cause for hope.
Even as improvements for veterans move from local to national levels, there are pockets of inequality. As the Equal Justice Initiative highlights, racial minorities within the military – and especially black people – have been targeted by racism in the past. Inequalities remain in their treatment by the VA and in active military service, and this is an area of active review for the military and legislators. Many of these issues stem from wider societal views and priorities and, while they do not differ from the norm, this doesn’t mean they can’t be changed. The military is, ideally, a place where every man and woman is recognized for their service and sacrifices for the country – regardless of their background.
There is no simple fix, of course. Societal change, and a change in how veterans are treated, will help to create long-term benefits for them. They can achieve security, a sense of peace, and a real chance at full recovery in the civilian life that follows the rigors of active service.
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