Veterans Day

Veterans Day

What It Means and How We Can Show Appreciation To Our Vets

In the United States, our veterans make sacrifices for our freedom and prosperity. Those sacrifices are too often overlooked because it occurs behind the scenes. We represent the success of our military by the lack of total deaths we face and the battles we win, but returning vets are often faced with PTSD and an array of mental health issues. As a society, we dismiss these brave people after their time served because they have served their purpose already. Veterans Day is meant to celebrate the veterans who have survived, not to be confused with Memorial Day, which honors those who lost their lives while defending their country. 

Veterans have a statistically higher percentage of mental health issues compared to the rest of the public. 38% of veterans self-report some type of mental illness. To quote Military Health Journal, the highest veteran disorder prevalence was depression at 18%, followed by alcohol misuse at 17%, anxiety 15%, post-traumatic stress disorder was 3% and dementia 2%. The rest of the population have a 1 in 5 chance of experiencing these compared to veterans, which is a staggering difference. But, how do we help these people? 

Historically, there have been some steps made to help our veterans, but the question is, is that enough? On a federal level, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is completely dedicated to helping out veterans and their families. According to the federal register, the department of veterans’ affairs is responsible for administering benefit programs for veterans, their families, and their survivors. These benefits include pension, education, disability compensation, home loans, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, survivor support, medical care, and burial benefits. One a more local level, California vets are able to access the CalVet Veteran Services Mental Health Program. This website is dedicated completely to help veterans struggling with mental health problems and making sure they receive the benefits they completely deserve. The main issue faced within these programs are availability. Due to the shortage in mental health workers, it is very difficult for struggling vets to get an appointment in these offices. This may contribute to the disproportionate amount of veteran suicides to the total population. Veteran suicide makes up 13% of daily suicide while only accounting for 6% of the population.

What can you do? As young adults, it often feels like things are out of our control. It feels like our voices more often than not are not heard. Small personal changes on a large level could make a world of a difference, though. Options to volunteer at VA medical centers are available, but something as small as a thank-you can save a life. As those who will soon inherit the world, we can change things for the better. So today, I challenge you to make the world a little bit better than it was yesterday.

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