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Ten years after the U.S. first invaded Iraq, returning troops are filing for disability benefits, seeking education and employment assistance and struggling with combat trauma. Amid $1.7 trillion in U.S. war spending, there is no special fund to address Iraq vets’ medical and disability payments. When it comes to education, veterans are facing suspended tuition assistance. And female vets seek help in dealing with homelessness, post-military sexual abuse trauma and many other unique challenges.
In spite of the The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) which provides employment assistance and protection against hiring discrimination, the veteran unemployment hovers around 9%. Hire Heroes USA provides personalized job training through one-on-one mentoring and matches veterans up with corporate partners. Wall Street Warfighters is a six-month in-residence course for veterans. Extensive training is provided to prepare vets for a career in the finance industry.
Health and Recovery
While more veterans are returning home from battle, that also means that more former servicemen and servicewomen are learning to live with catastrophic conditions, including genital wounds and amputations, that previous generations never before had to face. The Wounded Warrior Project helps veterans with both their physical and invisible wounds — with a special emphasis on stress relief — as they adjust to life on the home front. Homes For Our Troops raises money and provides services to build specially adapted homes for injured heroes.
While the VA is working to improve its mental health services, suicide and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rates remain alarmingly high with roughly 22 veterans committing suicide daily in 2010 and 228,875 troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan returning with PTSD as of 2012. The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans with members in the VA through phone, chat or text, to provide care and even life-saving rescues to vets during this critical time. Give An Hour calls on mental health professionals to donate an hour of their time to troops and their families.
The VA will have to accommodate more vets as the Pentagon shrinks the number of troops serving over the next several years, female vets remain the fastest growing population among the homeless and some veterans say they’re simply reluctant to deal with a bureaucratic VA. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans — a nonprofit network of local, state and federal agencies — provides housing, food, health services and job training to thousands of homeless veterans every year.
Operation Dignity offers transitional housing for homeless vets throughout California. The organization also provides health care assistance, parenting classes, relapse prevention, anger management training, empowerment training and more. The site indicates that a $25 donation can provide school supplies for kids and $100 can cover job training for a homeless vet.
Amid the $85 billion in sequester cuts, the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Marines have suspended their Tuition Assistance (TA) programs, which gave military members as much as $4,500 a year in financial aid. National Military Family Association ensures that those who serve in the military — and their family members — gain access to the education and financial benefits that they deserve. Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Of America works to improve education and employment opportunities for the veterans it serves through its programming and public policy initiatives.