Veterans need better resources – Marquette Wire

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American freedom would not be possible without our soldiers, who beyond their titles are human beings. As a country at war – with others and with ourselves – our soldiers risk their lives to defend our rights. Sadly, after leaving the military, veterans face a harsh reality: Our government is doing little to protect them outside of the US military.

It is essential that our government and the Department of Veterans Affairs create more sustainable and accessible resources for veterans across the country.

Celebrating and commemorating veterans for their duty rests on the shoulders of one day: Veterans Day. Every Veterans Day there are great deals at retail stores, restaurants and at Jefferson College in Missouri, free oil changes. But after Veterans Day, there is little recognition of veterans, as well as genuine concern for their well-being.

According to the National Alliance Against Mental Illness, The top three mental health issues that veterans may suffer from are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury. About one in five Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from PTSD or depression. In line with NAMI, VA research has proven 30% of Vietnamese veterans will suffer from PTSD in their life. In a study released by the VA in 2013 that covered suicides from 1999 to 2021, about 22 veterans died by suicide every day, or one every 65 minutes.

In addition, the National Alliance to End Homelessness reported that in 2019, 21 in 10,000 Veterans were homeless. Additionally, veterans of color are more likely to experience homelessness than their white counterparts.

Although the Veterans Health Administration, the largest healthcare system in the United States, has a variety of healthcare resources, information, and treatment options, the accessibility of these resources does is not excellent.

According to American Public Health Association, there are three major problems when trying to access health care as a veteran. Number one, the requirement that they have an honorable or general discharge to receive VA benefits. To earn an honorable discharge, military personnel must receive a grade of good to excellent for their service. It is not difficult to host, those who fulfill their duty and / or exceed expectations will receive an honorable mention.

Number two: There is a long waitlist for care which is due to the lack of health care providers, poor scheduling practices, and issues with transitioning from active duty military care systems to systems care for veterans.

Number three: Social barriers to health-seeking behavior related to military culture. Often times, people inside and outside the military may have difficulty seeking treatment.

This exposes the main gaps in our health system that we need to address at national and local levels.

In Milwaukee, there are a number of resources available for veterans that have been created over time to meet the needs of veterans.

For example, Forbes Magazine just pointed out the Old Main in Milwaukee, which was recently renovated to house veterans. Old Main was built in 1867 as a healing place for veterans returning from the Civil War. Thanks to the rehabilitation project, the historic building now consists of 101 housing units spread across six restored buildings for veterans and their families who are or are at risk of homelessness. It’s huge considering that in Milwaukee, one in four homeless is a veteran.

The restoration process started in 2011 and was completed earlier this year. Taking the time to create quality resources to meet the needs of ex-combatants is necessary for building sustainable institutions.

Also, Marquette’s Midnight Run Chapter works in close collaboration with The place of the veterinarian, which houses veterans in the city. The sole purpose of Midnight Run is to meet the special needs of hungry and homeless people living in the Marquette neighborhood and beyond. It is important that veterans participate in this conversation.

As Veterans Day approaches, I urge everyone to see veterans beyond their titles, honors and awards. Take it a step further and think of them as human beings who need adequate resources to lead healthy lives.

This story was written by Hope Moses. She can be reached at [email protected]


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