It’s no secret that the nation’s veterans are facing some serious challenges. A new film, premiering on Veterans Day, takes a look at issues facing the country’s returning service members, as well as how veteran organizations and private charities are struggling to bridge the gap between what the VA provides and what veterans really need.
Souldier, The Documentary is a raw, unvarnished look at the troubling issues facing today’s veterans. Among them, PTSD, homelessness, and the self medication of substance abuse are creating a growing class of social outsiders who also happen to be our nation’s patriots.
“Veteran’s organizations and noble private benefactors strain to reach the needs of our maladjusted and disenfranchised heroes, who only need a hand up, not a hand out,” said Janet Hook, vice president of marketing for the film and founder of the Vintage Vixens of Arizona, one of the private organizations struggling to meet the needs of veterans. “Freedom is not free. Souldier was created to give a voice to our veterans who otherwise wouldn’t have one.”
While the VA has several programs in place to help veterans with PTSD and substance abuse, in addition to continuing initiatives aimed at reducing veteran homelessness, the VA admits that it can’t care for all of the nation’s veterans in need.
Housing Our Veterans
In August, the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced its latest round of funding to public housing organizations to aid homeless veterans. Through this $7.8 million program, added to a $60 million program announced in May, the coalition hopes to build on the 17 percent decline in veteran homelessness since 2009 with housing and clinical services.
However, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) believes this is just scratching the surface of the problem.
According to the NCHV, only 7 percent of the population can claim veteran status, but nearly 13 percent of the homeless population are veterans. A staggering 1.4 million more veterans are at risk for homelessness due to substandard living conditions, the absence of a support network, and poverty.
Healing Our Veterans
PTSD is a huge problem for America’s veterans from all conflicts. According to a report from the CBO, about a quarter of all veterans seeking treatment at their local VA center are there for PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or both. Between 2004 and 2009, the Veterans Health Administration spent $2.2 billion to help afflicted veterans.
While it’s exceptionally difficult to estimate how many veterans will seek treatment for PTSD — since one of the hallmarks of the condition is distrust and avoidance — it is safe to say that the number of vets will only increase and so will the costs.
“PTSD is much more complicated than most realize, and unfortunately, the treatment available, including through the VA (when you can get it) is rather superficial,” said Dr. David Reiss, a psychotherapist who has treated PTSD patients.
Reiss went on to say that treatment must be highly individualized to each patient, and that is something that the providers at the VA just don’t have the resources to do. He added that treatment can be improved by “better tracking the status and circumstances of patients” instead of “15 minute med checks every several months.”
That being said, better treatment for veterans means more money, something that the country is sorely lacking … or does it?
In 2007 alone, the VA issued 1.2 million prescriptions totaling $181 million for drugs that are neither approved to treat PTSD nor shown to be effective in its treatment. Perhaps the VA could keep its promises to America’s veterans by cutting the waste. Until it does, there will be private organizations to take up the slack.
Souldier, the Documentary will debut on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, 2013, at the Valley Arts Theater in Tempe, Arizona. It will then be available through Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.
The US as the monopoly issuer of net financial assets does not have to, it chooses to, limit spending to what can be raised with taxes and borrowing. It is crony capitalist politics that keeps the US from just keystroking money into existence to treat our vets with the dignity they deserve. Shameful.
Actually this is quite true, for the most part. Most voters are too lazy to educate themselves about the candidates and vote the party line. Makes me so mad. Wake up, people!
The VA States We Put Veterans First! This Is Nonsense Veterans Are Mistreat By The VA! In So Many Ways! I Found Out The Hard Way! Still Waiting For My Settlement The VA Is Trying To Screw. Me Evan Lazarou Claim#27452313 Thanks
This is mostly a lie, I was one of the veterans living on the streets. If the veteran wants help it is available, but they have to want it, quit spreading the lies
When our country helps other countries theirs nothing left that's why we need a higher debt ceiling to keep printing more monopoly greenbacks that are worth a dime, our ship is sinking but nobody cares...
We have been failing our veterans for a long time. The very fact that some active servicemen are on food stamps says way too much. The recent troubles f the Government have only shown a light on things.
Republican’s courageous fiscal guru’s budget that passed in the Republican House of Representatives cuts $11 billion from veteran’s spending, or 13% less than President Obama proposes in his budget. In fact, in the nearly 100-page Ryan Path to Prosperity budget, the word Veteran is not mentioned one time. http://www.politicususa.com/2012/05/28/memoral-day-gop-va-cuts.html
The VA’s health care budget is at its largest in decades. He also pointed to the new GI Bill – authored and passed into law by congressional Democrats over Republican objections – which specifically addresses the needs of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to get into college and into the workforce. “The GI Bill is the best single veterans program ever devised,” Cleland said.
And the Democrats have lived up to that duty, he said. Since they took the lead in Congress in 2006 and since President Obama was sworn into office, “we have seen the greatest increase in the VA budget since World War II,” Cleland pointed out. In the past 72 months of Democratic Party leadership, the VA has seen a budget increase of 45 percent. “Democrats get it” http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/12/28/gop-looks-at-cutting-veterans-health-benefits-for-2011-session-to-fulfill-pledge/
Stinginess with the VA budget by the Bush administration and the congressional Republicans has angered veterans groups. In January, a Pentagon spokesperson called for sharp cuts in veterans’ benefits and described the costs of such benefits as a 'hurtful' to national security. Since then, the Republicans in the House passed a funding package for the Department of Veterans Affairs appropriation for 2006 that has been sharply criticized by the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Disabled American Veterans.
Bush Administration cuts $1.5 billion from military family housing. Bush Administration proposal would end health care benefits for 173,000 veterans. Bush Administration cuts $172 million allotted for educating the children of military personnel. Bush Administration tax cut denies military families increase in child tax credit. Bush Administration opposed plan to give National Guard and Reserve Members access to health insurance. It goes on and on, and this is only for the first couple of years of the Iraq War.
Republicans have been making cuts to veterans benefits for some time now. Their constituents never hold them accountable so they keep cutting....but that's Obama's fault.
We sent our Boys to war in Afghanistan and Iraq with absolutely no plans and no funding to care for them once they returned. This is a national disgrace.
I lost a brother in law, Vietnam vet, to a massive stroke who probably had PTSD before he served from his alcoholic WW2 vet father. No VA or any insurance and he was pretty much brushed off by the hospital with medication for high blood pressure. Next day he was a vegetable. Sorry ur country snubbed u Bob Glossender!
The problem is and always has been the Veterans Administration. They always promise improvements but they never deliver on those promises. I feel lucky to have been in the system for the last 8 years but it took me 10 years to get a disability rating. It is a very difficult process which the service organizations like the DAV do not always succeed in helping their clients. Then it is time to see a lawyer. By then you are years into the process, if you can navigate it, and if not, many veterans just give up. That is why so many Vets are not enrolled in the VA system. The VA invites you to apply but then keep you waiting in line until your claim is decided. Most claims are denied.
900,000 Veterans were denied the food stamps they were getting in the latest 'debacle' of Congressional stupidity.
I can't imagine the conflict our veterans feel; being trained to do something that defies our very humanity, killing another human. Adding that on top of the extreme physical and emotional environment of war and it's a recipe for an inevitably disastrous outcome.
The best way to help our veterans is to stop throwing them into conflicts that only serve the interests of a few elite and corporations. Our veterans are not "soldiers for hire" they are patriots and should be treated accordingly. In the same way, those who volunteer to serve, need to educate themselves on what the role is of the American military, and know their rights.
If our government would stop sending our money to countries that hate us we would have enough money to take care of this.