There are three primary issues that face veterans in almost every community at one point in their lives; unemployment, homelessness, and suicide. If it doesn’t, then you are one of the lucky ones, but for many, this is their reality.
Veterans bring skills to the table, and many of their skills that have been learned in the military can benefit their communities once they’ve been discharged. Often, a veteran needs a helping hand to get reintegrated into their communities to become a functioning member. While veterans have unique skills, they also possess unique hurdles, including higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, and suicide, but with the help of their communities, they can overcome these obstacles. Many need help at the right time – especially
offered by the proper people, organizations, and businesses in their communities.
Veteran unemployment is twice the national average. A Veterans’ most significant obstacles in obtaining employment are translating their military background into a work experience that is easily understandable by civilians, that meets the licensing requirements, and finding jobs while being disabled.
As veterans become older and the longer, he or she has been separated from military service, the better their prospects are for employment. While eighty percent of military jobs have a civilian counterpart, the licensing requirements usually differ. This requires the veteran to go through civilian education in a field that they have already mastered. Also, the educational and testing requirements may vary from state to state. The Veterans Administration (VA) will help pay for testing, but the cost of education usually will fall on the veteran, which can be very expensive.
The 29-percent service-related disability rates are higher among veterans. Most common disabilities include missing limbs, burns, hearing loss, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans with service-related disabilities had an employment-population ratio of 43.3 percent, which is lower the 49-percent of the non-disabled population. The VA helps veterans by providing a Military Skills Translator, which translates military jobs into easy to read resume-ready information – and imports it to the organization’s Resume Builder. Additionally, there are exclusive unemployment benefits for veterans. The Department of Labor (DOL) partnered with the VA to offer Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment services, helping with training in developing new job skills, starting a business, or receiving education counseling. Another service, The Veterans Opportunity to Work program, can offer to extend additional vocational rehabilitation benefits for those who have completed their initial program. Rally Point provides post-military professional networking opportunities for veterans, along with Jobless Warrior providing employment and job search resources, to include career coaches and information on employers looking to hire veterans.
Those veterans with service-connected disabilities have a preference when applying for specific federal jobs or potentially winning individual federal government contacts. Some Disabled veterans also are eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation. Those who hire service-disabled veterans qualify for tax incentives through the Special Employer Incentive program. The VOW program also can assist veterans in receiving disability accommodations.
One out of ten of those homeless people are veterans; 50 percent are disabled, and three-quarters of homeless veterans have some sort of mental health issues. Another 1.5 million veterans are at-risk for homelessness because of poverty, lack of support networks, and overcrowded housing. One half a million veterans pay more than one half of their total income on their rent.
Many of our nation's homeless veterans, or at-risk for homelessness, have service-connected disabilities, especially mental health issues like PTSD or substance abuse issues. Unemployment can also factor in because of the inability to transition military training to civilian work.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans stresses a need for housing, nutrition, physical, mental healthcare, and job services for our nation's homeless and at-risk veterans. The coalition reports that community-based programs to serve veterans saw the most significant success rate.
The Interagency Council of Homelessness has established a benchmarking guide for communities looking to address veteran homelessness actively. This council also has published a strategy guide, recommending a public commitment to eradicating veteran homelessness; coordination programs with private landlords matching homeless vets with housing; identifying resources at the federal, state, and local levels; and coordinating with job programs to help provide training and services.
The Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service provided the availability of $12 million in funding to help veterans with job training and sustainable housing to transition them from homelessness.
The VA provided housing assistance in conjunction with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program, including exams, treatment, and referrals. The Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans program offered mental health and rehabilitation services and job services explicitly targeted toward our homeless veterans to help with assistance.
Additionally, Veterans Matter is a nonprofit organization that provides housing to homeless veterans founded by a formerly homeless man. Veterans Matter works directly with other organizations to raise awareness and funding.
Veterans represent one in five of the total population of those who die from suicide in America. Unfortunately, Twenty-two veterans will die of suicide daily. Many of those lack access to or don’t utilize available VA services that are available.
There are many reasons why veterans are suffering from this issue. Many veterans suffer from isolation, have little to no meaningful social connections, and become prone to suicide issues, especially during transitional periods – such as separation from the military or changes in their lives. Unemployment and homelessness are periods that veterans may see themselves as burdens to their communities, which are significant stressors, as viewed by the veteran. The risk of suicide is most notable during the first three years following separation from the military.
This isolation can be especially acute in veterans who suffer from PSTD or lost fellow service members, even if they have an adequate support system. In such cases, veterans may feel that others can't understand the trauma they have endured, causing a feeling of disconnection from society.
The Center for Disease Control established in a report on suicide prevention that recommendations should be implemented for patient strengthening financial security, encouraging emotional intelligence and identifying and intervening with those most at-risk, improving safe storage practices for firearms and medicines, stabilizing housing, increasing access to mental health care, promoting community engagement, and enhancing communication and problem-solving skills.
The VA also has a dedicated suicide crisis line – call 1(800) 273-8255 or text 838255 – including helpful resources for veterans and concerned loved ones to obtain information on suicide warning signs and crisis resources.
Additionally, the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has developed training called; “Signs, Ask, Validate, Encourage and Expedite” to help those who encounter veterans to recognize red-flags of suicide and act. The nonprofit Psych Armor Institute has helped provide this training covering various topics from military culture, myths, supporting veterans, and self-care.
Additionally, the VA Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide addresses veteran suicide in a multi-pronged approach: visibility and awareness; preventive services; treatment and support; and research. Through knowledge, pro-active, and preventive measures and support, your community can best serve its veterans, reaping the benefits of all they have to offer in return and thanking them for their service.
Well, hopefully, this information is helpful to you, or you can share it with a fellow veteran who can use it in their life. If there is two things I learned a long time ago, Always Strive to Learn Something New Everyday! and Knowledge is Power! So, Never Stop Learning!
Image provided by Half of Us (2020). Veteran Issues. Retrieved from http://www.halfofus.com/situation/veteran-issues/