gmhTODAY 22 gmhToday Oct Nov 2018 - Page 70

More than 20 million American men and women are veterans. Roughly one-third served during the Gulf War years (1990 or later). The other two-thirds served from World War II through the Vietnam Era. We are losing our veterans faster than we are replenishing the ranks of the U.S. Armed Forces. CIVILIANS: CARING BUT UNAWARE? Public support for increased spending on veterans services and benefits is the highest it’s been in decades, with 75 percent of Americans in favor, yet as a nation we’re disconnected from the mission and need for our armed forces, the combat soldier’s experience, and the challenges of returning to civilian life. Nearly five million veterans have a service-connected disability. In 2014, President Obama signed a bill to overhaul a dysfunctional health care system. The bill improved veterans’ access to government-paid health care from local doctors and allowed the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department to hire thousands of doctors, nurses and other professionals and strengthened the agency’s employment rules to hold VA management accountable. With the suicide rate among veterans at nearly three times the average rate for the general population, a new law was enacted requiring the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department to submit to independent reviews of their suicide prevention programs. It called for easy online access to mental health services information for veterans, and incentives to psychiatrists agreeing to work for the VA and create a pilot program to assist veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian life. HOUSING OUR VETERANS In fact, the number of Americans with military experience has declined by more than 50 percent s