When we think of veterans returning home from either from a tour in a combat zone or from completing their service to our nation. Veterans today are facing numerous problems such as: Readjustment, PTSD, Unemployment and homelessness. These are just a few of the many issues that they are facing when returning home. As a veteran I can say one of the biggest issues we have faced was that of readjustment to a civilian lifestyle from a military lifestyle. Service members are used to order and the feeling that they are part of something great as well as knowing they have the support system there when they most need it.
That support system is that of their fellow brothers and sisters they serve alongside with. When a veteran returns home they feel lost and that they do not belong to anything or that they are not important this would make it feel like the once strong support system they had before is now gone. The family of the veteran has a difficult understanding the mindset of him/ her, the friends of the veteran also has a difficult relating to anything they are saying.
For an example, when I returned to the states in 2011, I went through couple years of hardship where I could not find a job that was steady or supportive to live on as well as not being able to reconnect with any of my old friends. I had next to no one returning home to support me. With this example in mind, this can make the veteran shut themselves out of the world because they have no one to turn to while trying to work through the readjustment. If you know someone who is currently working through this issue there are a couple tips to help you help the veteran in a way that they will appreciate it.
The first thing is to be very patient with him/her but let them know that you are there for them especially when they need you the most. Secondly, let them find their focus instead of telling them what they should focus on. Do not push them to where they are uncomfortable and push you or others back away that they have trusted with getting help from. Thirdly, we as vets have and will always have a sense of pride and it will hurt us tremendously when we cannot obtain a decent job after all the training we have been through.
Don’t make it worse for the veterans by telling them they are no good because they have not been able to get a job 4 months after returning home and are unable to help pay bills. Support your veteran every step of the way when going through re-adjustment to civilian life. Having readjustment issues can lead to mental health problem that can arise if they are not caught early. Which brings me to the topic of PTSD. Trauma is all around us. From car to house fires to just someone that is close to us passing away.
The PTSD that I am talking about with veterans is that of trauma that they have faced either from an Improvised Explosive device, also known as an IED, tearing their Humvee to pieces of scrap metal or a fellow brother or sister that you have fought alongside dying in your arms from a small arms fire. These veterans are coming home with that deeply burned into their memory which will flare up and cause them to panic when a car backfires driving down the street. The Mayo Clinic best defines it as “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.
Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event”. (mayoclinic. org) the rate of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans having PTSD is fairly high. Veterans Affairs stated that 11 out of 20 of every 100 returning “Operation Enduring Freedom” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom” with have PTSD in a given year. (www. ptsd. va. gov) that equals to 11% to 20% of service members. I believe that a lot more can be done to help combat PTSD in returning veterans.
For starters, we need to better equip health care professionals that includes mental health counselors, rehab clinics with better training as in sending them to more seminars, classes. Another great method to help with veterans overcome this mental issue; is having the veteran partake in working with art, group/individual therapy or having him/her find a hobby that they have always enjoyed. Having to work through PTSD and readjustment can make it hard on the veteran to have a steady job. According to official statistics, veterans that were ages 18 to 24 was at a 29% unemployment rate in 2011.
But in 2015 the overall rate for unemployment was 5. 3%. More businesses are realizing that veterans have particular skill sets and leadership that could be helpful in their company. But even still a lot of employers are not understanding the skill set that these veterans have and pass them up for someone who has no experience in that field. Also the vets are not used to having to put together a resume, cover letter and then going out there in the job market to apply When I came back I only had a particular job set. My experience was in law enforcement.
But in the civilian world you just cannot go interview to be a police officer and then have a job all in a weeks’ time. This type of job requires patience and determination because it will take a year from the time of application to possibly to the time of the job offer. Having only this job description made it very hard for me to find work that also paid well. These are the issues that veterans are facing when trying to find employment. When a veteran is unable to find employment it can lead to them facing homelessness especially if they do not have any family around them to reach out to.
The majority of homeless veterans is made up of males and according to the National Coalition for Homeless (NCHV) veterans they state that there is only a 9% female veteran homeless rate. The U. S. Department of Housing also states in the article that there is in a given night of 47,725 homeless veterans. The big factors that are playing a huge role in veteran homelessness is there is an extreme shortage to affordable housing, finding a job that pays enough to live one as well as not being able to get health care for any mental problems that the veterans are facing.
Veteran homelessness is serious problem in the United States. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) listed a few strategies on their webpages to help homeless veterans is to have the local mayor join the Mayors Challenge to End veteran homelessness, Identify all homeless veterans by their names as well as conducting a coordinated outreach and engagement efforts which means instead waiting for veterans to come seek help, be proactive and search for these veterans that are requiring of these needs.
These are just a few ideas to help lessen the veteran homelessness. It is known that with the current state of the world. Veteran ptsd, homelessness, unemployment and readjustment issues will be around for the next 10 years but it is up to us as a society to work together and help lessen the burdens that the veterans face when coming home. One lending hand can make a huge dent into combating the issues of returning vets.