The war in Afghanistan is now the single longest war that the U.S. has fought. As it becomes ever more entrenched in the annals of history, so too does it become increasingly forgotten at ‘home’, where soaring employment rates distract, and the news media drowns the airwaves with everything else. The consequences for veterans can be severe, as Bill Boyarsky at Truthdig writes:
The New York Times reportedthat the unemployment rate for veterans who joined after Sept. 11, 2001, was 10.9 percent in April, almost two percentage points above the national rate. “The problem is particularly severe among young male veterans, ages 18 to 24, for whom the unemployment rate is nearly 27 percent,” the Times said.
The situation is worse for veterans who are mentally or physically disabled. A RAND Corp. study in 2008 found that roughly 300,000 servicemen and servicewomen back from Iraq and Afghanistan—nearly 20 percent of the number who served there—reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression. About 19 percent said they suffered from possible traumatic brain injury while overseas.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals further condemns VA care:
“On an average day, eighteen veterans of our nation’s armed forces take their own lives,” Reinhardt wrote. “Of those, roughly one quarter are enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system. Among all veterans enrolled in the VA system, an additional 1,000 attempt suicide each month.”
“Veterans who return home from the war suffering from psychological maladies are entitled by law to disability benefits to sustain themselves and their families as they regain their health. Yet it takes more than four years for a veteran to fully adjudicate a claim for benefits.”