All Americans owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served in our defense in our armed forces. These veterans, of many varied backgrounds and circumstances all have one thing in common; they have served us. For that, they deserve our appreciation, our support and our consideration of the sacrifices they and their families have made. This page is dedicated to helping Bold Americans be more mindful of the needs and challenges our Veterans face and the opportunity we have to do something about it, in our daily personal and professional lives.
To all American Veterans, we say “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE”!
It’s easy to forget important things. Life is happening to us all. We’re busy trying to make a living, get ahead, live the American Dream and enjoy life. Sometimes we forget the most important things, and sometimes…we forget the most important people.
American Veterans are and should be V.I.P.’s in all of our books. They have served our country and put their lives on the line. They have sacrificed much. All have sacrificed their time, professional pursuits and absence from family and loved ones. Many have sacrificed emotional and physical strength. Many have offered the greatest sacrifice they had to offer; their lives.
Let’s do a little memory jogging and see if we can apprehend our thoughts of this important group of our society, their concerns and challenges, and what we can do to help those who have helped us by protecting and guarding our freedom and safety.
THE BIG PICTURE:
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, there are in excess of 21,973,000 Veterans in the U.S. Approximately 90% are male and 10% female. Our veterans are of virtually every ethnicity that makes up America.
9.3 million of our veterans were 65 years and older in 2013. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.6 million were younger than 35.
7.0 million are Vietnam-era veterans. Moreover, there were 5.2 million who served during the Gulf War Era (representing service from August 1990 to present); 1.3 million who served in World War II; 2.1 million who served in the Korean War; and 4.7 million who served in peacetime only.
58,445 is the number of living veterans in 2013 who served during the Vietnam Era and both periods of the Gulf War (August 1990 to August 2001 and September 2001 or later).
Other living veterans in 2013 who served during three wartime periods: 39,890 served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam Era.
Number of living veterans in 2013 who served during two wartime periods: 1,006,501 served during Gulf War (August 1990 to August 2001) and Gulf War (September 2001 or later); 294,251 served during Gulf War (August 1990 to August 2001) and the Vietnam Era. 175,676 served during the Korean War and the Vietnam Era. 92,670 served during World War II and the Korean War.
Where our veterans live: There are 3 states with 1 million or more veterans in 2013. These states were California (1.7 million), Texas (1.5 million) and Florida (1.5 million).
Our veterans Education: 26.8% Percent of veterans 25 years and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2013. In comparison, 29.9 percent of nonveterans had a bachelor’s degree or higher. 29.1% is the percent of veterans 25 years and older in 2013 whose highest educational attainment was a high school diploma or equivalency in 2013, compared with 27.7 percent of the nonveteran population.
Income: $36,381 was the annual median income of veterans in 2013, compared with $25,820 for the nonveteran population.
On the Job: 7.7 million of our veterans are 18 to 64 years old in the labor force in 2013, of those 7.1 million were employed.
Service Connected Disabilities: 3.6 million veterans had a service-connected disability rating in 2013. Of this number, 957,504 had a rating of 70 percent or higher. A “service-connected” disability is one that was a result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Severity of one’s disability is scaled from 0 to 100 percent, and eligibility for compensation depends on one’s rating.
Voting: 14.7 million is the number of veterans who voted in the 2012 presidential election. Seventy percent of veterans cast a ballot in that election, compared with 61.8 percent of all U.S. citizens 18 years and older.
12.4 million is the number of veterans who voted in the 2010 congressional election. Fifty-seven percent of veterans voted in that election, compared with 45.5 percent of all U.S. citizens 18 years and older.
Along with these impressive statistics, there is also some disturbing information about our veteran citizens:
There are many common challenges veterans face during their re-adjustment to civilian life following active service that we as civilians may not be aware of. There are unique challenges that separating from military service and returning to civilian life can present. Veterans may find difficulty:
- Relating to people who do not know or understand what military personnel have experienced (and many civilians don’t know that they don’t know!).
- Reconnecting with family and re-establishing a role in the family.
- Families may have created new routines during absences and both the family and the Veteran will have to adjust to changes.
- Joining or creating a community.
- When moving to a new base or post, the military helps military personnel and families adjust. This structure is often not automatically in place when someone separates from the military. The Veteran and his or her family may have to find new ways to join or create a social community.
- Preparing to enter the work force.
- A Veteran may have never looked for, applied for, or interviewed for a civilian job, especially if he or she had a career in the military. These are new skills he or she will have to learn and master.
- In applying for a job, a Veteran will have to determine how to translate his or her military skills and duties into civilian terms and create a resume.
- A Veteran may have never created a resume. Instead of a resume the military uses a Field Service Record to detail qualifications, training, and experience.
- Returning to a job.
- If deployed with the National Guard or Reserve, a Service Member will have to adjust to resuming their previous job or another similar job at the same company. For some recently returning Service Members, they may find themselves behind a desk in as little as 3 days after leaving a combat zone.
- Returning to the job may include a period of catching up, learning new skills, or adjusting to a new position. It will also include adjusting to social changes that may have occurred in the workplace.
- During the transition back to work, some Veterans also experience worry and fear about possible job loss.
- Creating structure.
- The military provides structure and has a clear chain of command. This does not naturally exist outside the military. A Veteran will have to create his or her own structure or adjust to living in an environment with more ambiguity.
- Adjusting to providing basic necessities (e.g., food, clothing, housing).
- In the military, these things are not only provided, but there is often little choice (e.g., you eat at determined times in a certain place, duty station determines your dress).
- Given the lack of choices while in the military, the vast array of choices in the civilian world can sometimes be overwhelming.
- Adjusting to a different pace of life and work.
- In the military, personnel do not leave until the mission is complete. In a private sector business, an employee might be expected to stop and go home at 5pm, whether the “mission” is complete or not. This may not be apparent to all Veterans.
- Civilian workplaces may be competitive environments, as opposed to the collaborative camaraderie of the military.
- Given the direct nature of communication in military settings, there may be subtle nuances in conversations and workplace lingo that are unfamiliar to Veterans.
- Establishing services.
- A Veteran may have to learn how to get a doctor, dentist, life insurance, etc. These services were previously provided by the military.
- A Veteran may also need to navigate the paperwork and process of obtaining benefits and services from the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Veterans & Homelessness
- Between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year.
- On any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the U.S.
- Approx. 33% of homeless males in the U.S. are veterans.
- Veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless.
- Veterans represent 11% of the adult civilian population, but 26% of the homeless population, according to the Homeless Research Institute (2007).
- Veterans are more at risk of becoming homeless than non-veterans
- The number of homeless Vietnam-era veterans, male and female, is greater than the number of soldiers who died during the war.
- Primary causes of homelessness among veterans are:
- Lack of income due to limited education and lack of transferable skills from military to civilian life (especially true of younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan)
- Combat-related physical health issues and disabilities
- Combat-related mental health issues and disabilities
- Substance abuse problems that interfere with job retention
- Weak social networks due to problems adjusting to civilian life
- Lack of services.
SOLUTION(S) & ACTION PLAN:
There are many organizations local and national that strive to serve the ever increasing needs of our veterans. As Bold Americans, we need to do something to help these organizations. We need to reach out, participate in some way, either as a volunteer or through donations or both. A kind word of appreciation to a veteran, letting them know, “we appreciate your service to our country”, goes a long way.
We cannot depend upon the government to take care of our veterans, as so many examples of their inadequate service to our military have been displayed in recent months and years. It’s up to us, as the citizenry, to do our part. If you’re an employer, consider the opportunity to employ a veteran.
Check out the links below and research a veteran support organization with which you feel you’d like to align.
REMEMBER our veterans. Do your part. Do something! Be BOLD!
Organizations that serve our veterans:
- Air Force Association
- Air Force Sergeants Association
- American Ex-Prisoners of War
- American G.I. Forum
- American Legion
- American Veterans for Equal Rights
- Aztec Club of 1847
- Blinded Veterans Association
- Catholic War Veterans
- Charlotte Bridge Home
- Disabled American Veterans
- Fleet Reserve Association
- [(Florida Veterans Assistance, Inc)]
- The Greatest Generations Foundation
- Healing Heroes Network
- Hope For The Warriors
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America or IAVA (formerly OpTruth)
- Iraq War Veterans Organization
- Jewish War Veterans of the USA
- Marine Corps League
- Military Officers Association of America
- Military Order of the Carabao
- Military Order of Foreign Wars
- Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States
- Military Order of the Purple Heart
- Navy League of the United States
- National Association for Black Veterans
- National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
- New Battlefront Foundation
- Operation Sacred Trust
- Operation Stand Down
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
- Pearl Harbor Survivors Association
- Retired Enlisted Association (TREA)
- Save Our Veterans Inc.
- Society of the Cincinnati
- Student Veterans of America
- United Service Organizations
- United States Submarine Veterans Inc. (USSVI)
- United States Submarine Veterans of World War II
- Veterans for America
- Veterans for Peace
- Veterans History Project
- Veterans of Foreign Wars
- Veterans Inc.
- Vietnamese American Armed Forces Association
- Vietnam Veterans of America
- Wounded Warrior Project