America’s armed forces are one of the most combat effective fighting forces in modern history, treasured by so many for their great sacrifice. One would expect them to be cared for extensively when they return. However, while they make up less than 9% of the population, they account for 18% of the nation’s suicides (Shame, Kime para 2); have a 31% rate of PTSD (Veterans statistics: PTSD, Depression, TBI, Suicide para 6) and have 2.5 times the civilian rate of prescription drug abuse (Veterans and Substance Abuse: The Many Sides of the Problem para 16). Some might say there is a problem here, and they would be right. As a country, we cannot allow our bravest men and women to sacrifice so much, and come back to a country where it’s questionable whether or not they’ll receive vital medical care which could save their life.

 

Veterans understand it is getting increasingly difficult to receive the medical care they need. Overall, the received medical care is phenomenal. The problem lies in getting an appointment (Michels para 6). While excellent medical care is essential, there shouldn’t be complications around accessing the care which veterans deserve. Additionally, veterans are often made to be treated by civilians. Treatment by colleagues is valuable because both parties can relate to each other. Civilian doctors are less desirable because they don’t understand the problems first hand. As stated by the spouse of one veteran, “‘They’re civilians. They’re clueless.’” (Michels para 10). To pay back the debt of gratitude we owe these heroes, we ought to be making it easier for them to receive care.

 

A question arises about how effective Veterans Affairs is at assisting our country’s former soldiers when the rates of PTSD and suicide are so high. An estimated 20 veterans take their own lives every single day. This loss of life is an atrocity. Seventy percent of these victims rarely, if ever, seek VA assistance because of its difficulty to obtain. It’s very easy to sign up for the military. It should be just as easy to survive afterwards. If medical assistance for our veterans was more readily available, more of our veterans would recover. There is no excuse for the government’s inability to effectively combat mental disorders like PTSD which the soldiers develop while doing the government’s bidding. If there aren’t medical facilities which can be accessed at a moment’s notice after service, maybe the government should reconsider enlisting 1.5 million people that will need help in the future.

 

While perusing articles related to Veteran Affairs, I couldn’t help but notice all of the comment sections consisting of disgruntled veterans who had absolutely nothing good to say about the health care system they were promised. For example, one veteran said, “The VA would rather have me die than be inconvenienced by helping me.” If this is the kind of attitude veterans have toward the very department which is meant to provide them with help, there are many things wrong with that system. Instead of a feeling of resentment, there should be a feeling of hope that you can overcome any difficulty which followed you out of your tour. If the medical assistance can’t even keep people from ending their own lives, how is it assistance in the first place?

 

The idea of sending someone off to fight a war and abandoning them when they return is beyond terrible. Abundant evidence exists which points to the fact that the level of “care” provided is completely inadequate to meet our veterans needs. That one third of our fighting force comes home with a debilitating mental disorder which many times goes untreated is unacceptable. It is no wonder we lose 7,400 veterans every year to their own hand, when so many of them can’t get in for treatment (Shane, Kime para 2-3). These men and women did so much for us. As a country, we must now do so much more for them.

 

 

 

Work Cited

 

Shane, Leo, and Patricia Kime. “New VA Study Finds 20 Veterans Commit Suicide Each Day.” Military Times, Military Times, 8 Aug. 2017,

https://www.militarytimes.com/veterans/2016/07/07/new-va-study-finds-20-veterans-commit-suicide-each-day/

 

“Veterans and Substance Abuse: The Many Sides of the Problem.” Addiction ResourceAddiction Resource,

https://addictionresource.com/addiction/veterans-and-substance-abuse/

 

“Veterans Statistics: PTSD, Depression, TBI, Suicide.” Veterans PTSD Statistics | Statistics: Depression, TBI and Suicide, Veterans and PTSD, 20 Sept. 2015,

http://www.veteransandptsd.com/PTSD-statistics.html

 

Michels, Holly K. “Veterans Call Program to Get Health Care with Civilian Doctors ‘a Disaster,’ Broken.” Helena Independent Record, Independent Record, 26 Oct. 2017,

http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/veterans-call-program-to-get-health-care-with-civilian-doctors/article_bda891f7-7996-518a-a6ee-deb098b7cf80.html

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Taking Care of our Veterans by Matthew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Tesh 2 weeks ago

    Hey Matthew, this is a very insightful paper. It really shows how some things are not as they seem in this country. I really liked the statistic about how less than 9% of the population are veterans yet they account for 18% of the nation’s suicides. This shows how serious this issue actually is. Your research and way of presenting statistics was very intuitive. Good Job!

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