Today there are 22,000,000 Military veterans in the United States
Today there are 22,000,000 military veterans in the United States. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, almost 4,000,000 of our veterans have a service-connected disability. Although there are many programs available to veterans with physical and mental challenges, what services are available to the other 95% of veterans who may not be physically or mentally challenged by Veterans Affairs standards or Department
of Defense? Many service members feel the effects of deployments away from family and
culture. Upon returning, they no longer recognize the communities or country in which they
feel so compelled to serve. According to a study published by the Veterans Affairs in 2012,
based on the findings in 2010, 7,832 veterans had committed suicide. The publication also
noted a dramatic increase in calls to the Veteran Crisis Line from 8,000 calls a month in 2009
to nearly 20,000 in August 2012. These numbers have continued to rise in the following years.
A study conducted by John Newby in 2005 surveyed 951 army soldiers who had deployed to a peacekeeping mission to Bosnia. The survey looked at the soldiers’ perspective of the positive and negative consequences of a Military Deployment. Of the 951 participants, 519 were married and 432 were single. Only 7% of the participants were women, while the rest were male. Seventy-seven percent (732) report positive consequences, 63% (599) report negative consequences, there were 46.9% (446) reported both. The studies showed unmarried soldiers were more likely to report positive consequences than their married counterparts. The most common negative comments were 13.8% chain of command issues, this arises from privileges that the higher echelon such as being able to communicate to family while the lower ranks cannot, due to standard operating procedures while conducting missions. 11.3% away from family or missed important events, some miss the birth of their child birthdays, holidays and deaths. 9.0% of these soldiers reported deterioration of relationships. Although things have changed, we can now communicate with all the various multimedia such as Skype the conversation is not the same. A service member is not going to tell their family member about dangers that they face, and the family, on the other hand, is not going to tell the service member any bad news that they may have received. 3.2% reported lost or mismanaged money (4.4% were married 1.6% were not). I have served with members who have come home to nothing, the house has been emptied by a spouse or significant other, and their bank account was drained. The positive effects were 17.4 % made additional money; this comes from hazard pay from being in war zones and the money being tax-free. In order for this to occur, the area must be considered a war zone. 11.4% experienced self-improvement many members take advantage of the downtime when not working by taking online courses seeking various degrees; this also helps to advance in rank. 10.7% had time to think; most of the time on deployments is spent working a fourteen to seventeen hour day, the rest of the time is downtime.
Studies that have been conducted within the last decade by Cohorts show combat deployments affect the physical, psychological, and social health of service members. The less commonly discussed mental health issues from these tours are depression, suicide, substance abuse, sleep disturbances, and impairments in family, and occupational and social functioning. Various psychological stressors come from preparing for a combat deployment. These include uncertainty, separation, isolation, danger, fatigue, and status and privilege differences among ranks and services. Another cohort study conducted looked at 289,000 veterans who had mental health diagnoses. 21.8% of these veterans suffered from PTSD, and another 17.4% were diagnosed with depression this was found to be a significant increase compared to civilians in the same demographic. The study also found that women were at a higher risk for depression compared to their male counterparts.
In 2004, a study was conducted regarding the effects of deployment on military members. The study examined the mental health of 5000 service members who deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in 2003-2004. The study showed an increase in the percentage of individuals who met screening criteria for multiple mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. The study also found that less than half of these individuals sought help with these issues (Israel, Malatras and Sheppard).
Israel, A. C., Malatras, J. W., & Sheppard, S. C. (2010). Te Impact Of Deployment on U.S. Military Families. American Psychologist, 599-609.
Newby, John H., et al. "Positive and Negative Consequences of a Military Deployment." Military medicine 170.10 (2005): 815-9. ProQuest. Web. 7 Apr. 2015.
Jeff DeBellis, Joshua Levy, and Oliver, Zack. 2012 Economic Impact of Military in North Carolina. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Dept. of Crime Control and Public Safety, Governor's Advisory Commission on Military Affairs, 1992. NCcommerce.com. North Carolina Department of Commerce, 11 May 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
"Veteran Population." - NATIONAL CENTER FOR VETERANS ANALYSIS AND STATISTICS. Department of Veterans Affairs, 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.