By Debbie Gregory.
You volunteer for the military. You serve, you sacrifice, and hopefully, when you’re done, you come back to a better life for you and your family, right? But a recent survey released by the Orange County Community Foundation revealed that 61% of post-9/11 Veterans said they were having issues adjusting to a civilian lifestyle. At fault may be the increased instances of PTSD, at an alarming 44%, compared to 24% of pre-9/11 Veterans.
The study collected information from 1,227 Orange County Veterans through paper and online surveys, along with group interviews. The study extended to all branches of the Armed Forces, with roughly 40% of respondents having served in the Army, The remaining 60% was made up of 25% from the Navy, 21% from the Marine Corps, and the final 14% from the Air Force and Coast Guard.
During a presentation at the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa, Anthony Hassan and his colleagues released their project titled “The State of the American Veteran: The Orange Veterans Study.” Hassan, a retired Air Force officer, is the director of the USC School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families. He emphasized the necessity of this data being collected at the local levels, with this study in particular being the first comprehensive essentials assessment for Veterans in Orange County. Hassan stated, “Without local data, people aren’t listening.”
As noted in the study, 74% of post-9/11 Veterans did not have guaranteed employment when they separated, and a staggering 71% answered that they did not receive any assistance in finding jobs. Almost 30% are currently unemployed and are actively seeking employment. Probably most disturbing is that 40% of respondents feel that employers view them as “broken” or potentially dangerous.
Also surprising is that 50% of Orange County Veterans who participated in the survey reported having difficulties with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the very agency that is supposed to make their lives better.
We owe those who have served a huge debt. Paying that debt and providing necessary services and resources must be accomplished on a local level in order to be effective.