We rely on our service members to protect our freedom. However, upon their return home, they are faced with many struggles that civilians are unaware of. The four most common struggles faced by our nation’s veterans are housing, finding a job, access to drug counseling and access to food stamps.
According to Think Progress, veterans are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness. While they make up seven percent of the general population, they are thirteen perfect of the homeless community. In a recent survey of homeless people in San Francisco, more than a quarter had served in the military. While overall homeless vets tend to be heavily male, female veterans make up the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population.
Our service members acquire a unique set of job skills while in combat. They are faced with new and unforeseen challenges and forced to overcome them every day. However, Fortune 500 explains that while hiring managers can easily understand a resume that shows a college degree in a related field and one entry-level job, they are not so clear about what an ordinance specialist or petty officer can bring to a civilian employer.
Many veterans wrestle with the stress from deployments to combat zones. This trying military lifestyle coupled with injuries and illnesses puts veterans at an increased risk for substance use disorders. An alarmingly high number of veterans turn to drugs to cope with the pressure of societal reintegration after the military. This is not an easy transition for any veteran, and it is easy to see why some turn to drugs. By making drug counseling more accessible to our veterans, we can help to combat an ever-growing problem within their community.
It is estimated that over 900,000 veterans rely on food stamps to feed their families. Recent budgetary changes have cut the benefits by an average of $133 per recipient. The effect of this is that many veterans go hungry. Whether it be pride or the fact that they simply are not receiving enough money to eat, it is a problem when we cannot meet the basic needs of our veterans.
While we applaud our service men and women for their bravery, we do not meet their most basic needs upon their return home. American veterans face struggles finding employment, housing, counseling, and access to food. We can and should do better as a nation in supporting our veterans.