Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 24, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY

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There are approximately 1.4 million active members of the United States Armed Forces, which consists of the Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force, and Coast Guard. This means that there are 1.4 million people who risk their lives daily for our country, 1.4 million people with friends and family members who worry about their loved ones’ lives, and 1.4 million people who deserve all of our support. We see our troops go in fearlessly and expect them to come out the same way- strong, resilient, and unscathed. This is unfortunately a major misconception. Many soldiers experience physical and mental trauma which can affect the way they live their lives as veterans. The sad reality is that our troops are worshipped while active and pushed to the side by the federal government upon their discharge from their position.

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs reported that they expected to spend $57 billion in 2013. However, the process to apply for disability is often lengthy, requiring evidence and multiple review processes. The compensation process takes anywhere from 3 months and up. This may not seem like a long time, but that is 3 months without rehabilitation for physical injuries or counselling for mental trauma. Daily tasks, mobility, and sleep can suffer as a result of war and should be treated as soon as possible. This is why many veterans end up homeless (approximately 63,000 in 2012). Often times, mental trauma can take longer as it is difficult to provide evidence of mental anguish.

It has also been reported (via military.com) that fewer than 1 in 10 people who apply for disability will not receive it. What happens to these veterans? How can they adjust to their regular lives without help? Many troops will also receive a one-time lump of compensation that is not nearly enough to support them and their families for the rest of their lives. One soldier expressed his discontent, saying that, “they sent us to fight an enemy and when we returned, we had to fight another enemy – us.”

A major debate in our country is what we should do with military spending and how/when we should prepare/deploy troops. However, I think the aftermath should be taken into much greater consideration. We have brave souls putting their lives on the line and are discarded upon returning home. My father is a United States Army Veteran who faced active combat, and I am proud every day to be his daughter. I am so thankful for the sacrifices that our troops make, and I think that they need to be taken more seriously. These men and women are not indestructible. They are human- humans who need care, love, and support, just like the rest of us. To any soldiers or veterans who are reading this, thank you for your service. You are incredible people and are truly our heroes.