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Veterans in the United States – how well do we take care of our soldiers?

On the Veteran’s day, Americans gather in towns and cities to thank the present and past veterans. Veterans’ issues have more scope and complexity associated with them, than American civilians are likely to ever experience. Veteran’s benefits can broadly be subdivided into three categories – health care, economic aid, and crisis support.

Health care

As per the law, 21 million of American veterans are eligible for VA healthcare. Nine million have enrolled for the same, and over seven million have used the system in 2016. This came at a cost of US$ 63 billion. The care encompasses illnesses and injuries sustained at war, and also cover the medical needs that may arise at any point of time. In order to accomplish the same, VA runs 800 clinics, 144 hospitals and 300 mental health Vet centers. Veterans face difficulty in accessing the care due to a complex bureaucracy. Finding care in a timely and convenient way is difficult. Federal spending over VA is nevertheless now more than any time earlier in history.

Benefits of service

Federal governments have started an array of economic support programs for veterans. The modern among these include small-business loans for veterans and granting preference to them for getting government contracts. Disability benefits stood in line of US$ 77 billion for 5 million veterans in 2016. Education and training programs were at US$ 14 billion. But the veterans benefited from the same were only 1 million in number. VA also provides home loans and life insurance. Despite the friction involved, the programs help veterans make a transition to civilian life. They bought veteran unemployment rates in the same lines as national unemployment rates in 2016.

Crisis support

Crisis support encompasses programs for legal problems, addiction and homelessness. The problem is quintessentially acute. Federal agencies, including VA render support amounting to billions of dollars to veterans who live on the margins of the society. Social safety net is larger, as compared to the one for nonveterans. From 2009 to 2017, VA invested US$ 65 billion over mental health treatment and housing for veterans. Homeless veterans reduced 73,400 in 2007 to 39,500 in 2016. The number must ideally stand at zero.

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