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Summing Up 2017 From A Veteran’s Perspective – What Went Wrong?

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This article is written by our co-founder and CEO Veronica Wright.


2016 ended with another horrible report on veteran healthcare. It seems that a careless dentist, who violated policies by using his own instruments and cleaning methods, may have infected patients with serious diseases, including HIV. This was nothing new. Throughout 2016, there was news of lack of medical care for veterans, including long wait times, even being turned away, and especially lack of mental health care for those from Vietnam forward. Republicans in Congress vilified the Obama administration for its lack of action.

Now, at the end of 2017, very little has changed and we see it in our resume writing service. While more veterans return from war zones, they face the same challenges as they always have, essentially, since Vietnam. Here are just some of the circumstances in which veterans find themselves.

They are Stigmatized

There is a perception that veterans who return from war areas are somehow “different.” And perhaps the news media has fostered this a bit by shedding light on the numbers of homeless veterans, the numbers facing PTSD and other mental illness without enough care, and those who have suffered extensive physical injuries. They are often categorized in two extremes – either they have emotionally removed themselves from “normal” life or they are “time bombs,” ready to explode at any time and therefore must be avoided. On newsletter, published on a college campus urged that veterans should not be allowed on college campuses, in order to keep those campuses safe for other students. The same newsletter stereotypes veterans as right-wing fanatics who hate minorities, immigrants, and the LGBT community.

In truth, most veterans return home to their families and, though they may have experienced emotional and perhaps physical trauma, are happy to be back in civilian life and want to be “normal” citizens again.

The Exaggeration of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD have been documented since ancient times, usually, those associated with the battle. However, over time, the definition has expanded to include most any traumatic event that has impacted a human’s psyche. It has become much more common a term since the 1980’s, however, as veterans returned from Vietnam with stress disorders of multiple varieties. What is often overlooked is that non-combatant civilians suffer traumas too – victims of rape, for example. And yet, they do not bear a stigma from the PTSD that they, too, suffer. The point is this: there are levels of PTSD, just as there are of many illnesses. And presentations can range from mild anxiety and depression to more severe conditions, including rage. Rage and acting out tend to be in a minority, and most who suffer from PTSD lead normal lives, often with therapeutic help.

Transitioning to Civilian Life

This may be the biggest challenge that veterans face. They have acquired skills while in the military and now must try to transfer those skills into civilian employment. A recent survey by Prudential, in which Iraq/Afghanistan veterans were polled, pointed to the following:

  • 64% stated that finding civilian employment was difficult; among unemployed veterans, the percentage was 86%
  • 53% reported difficulty in navigating the “system” of benefits and other support for veterans.
  • 60% stated that they had difficulty translating their military work experience to civilian skills and that there was little effect, low-cost help in doing so.
  • And 44% stated they did not feel “ready” to join civilian employment.

Obviously, much more needs to be done in this arena. And all of it will require far more funding than is currently provided.

Indifference of Politicians

Politicians give a great deal of lip service to their gratitude for the military service that veterans have provided. And they have been the first to scream “foul” when terrible conditions of medical care for veterans are exposed. But, while the VA budget is increased somewhat every year, it is nowhere near the increases for the Department of Defense. Commonly, the VA’s budget requests are higher than they are provided. The President’s budget for the VA for 2018 reflects a 5.8% increase, which amounts to $4.4 billion. By the same token, the DOD budget proposal is a $52 billion increase, some of which is for “pet” projects, which branches of the military state they do not want or need. This does not always sit well with veterans who need far more benefits and services than they currently get.

The Blame Game

In Washington, the conversation relating to why the VA is failing its clientele has become a game of blaming anyone else. Politicians point to waste that needs to be cleaned up before more funds are given; the VA insists that its waste is a minor concern, but that it does not have enough funds for the facilities and personnel necessary to serve the millions who are still waiting for assistance.

And this assistance is not just medical. Veterans need money and support to go back to school, and not just in terms of tuition. They need to upgrade and develop new skills so that they are competitive in the civilian marketplace. They also need great resumes and that's something we can help you with. Just ask "write my resume" and our experts will help you.

Fraudulent/Inferior Educational Organizations

In their need to get back to school for skill upgrades, veterans have become prime targets of for-profit vocational-technical colleges. Much of this stems from a 1998 law that stated such schools could count up to 90% of its revenue from federal funds (loans, grants), and 10% they must acquire from private sources. Because of a loophole in that law, however, educational funding from the G.I. Bill does not count in that 90%. This makes veteran enrollees highly valuable to these schools whose programs are inferior and who do not really prepare their students for careers nor assist them in finding employment. Some of these school shave been forced to close, and student loans are forgiven.

Unfortunately, the Department of Education is now dismantling those regulations that at least somewhat curtailed the unethical and fraudulent practices of many of these for-profit schools. This deregulation does not protect veterans, but, rather, sets them up for time and money expenditures that will lead nowhere.

Time for Appreciation that Really Counts

Words are empty when they are not followed by actions. And unfortunately, the words of those who have the power make the right changes are pretty empty right now. Our servicemen return to us with skills but with challenges. To be indifferent is just unconscionable. Politicians need to step up to the plate and become advocates for our veterans through legislation and funding.



About the author:

Silvia Giltner is a former HR manager and professional writer who delivers resume and coaching services at Resumes Centre. Her passion is to help people make a career change and get jobs they truly love by showing them how to take a full control over their careers. Check her expertise on our blog!