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Most Disabled Veterans Don’t Have Access to Full VA Caregiver Support

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By Debbie Gregory.

Family caregivers sacrifice so much of themselves in order to give their loved ones the highest quality of life possible. Yet most people are unaware of who these caregivers are and the role they play and the unique obstacles they face, especially those who are caring for a disabled veteran.

Veterans who were injured after Sept. 11, 2001 and require at-home care have access to for the full package of caregiver supports through the VA. However, this is not true for veterans who were severely injured prior to 2001.

Veteran service organizations such as Disabled American Veterans (DAV) are working with the VA and Congress to change this policy, in the hopes of expanding VA caregiver benefits, such as training and education, financial stipends, health insurance and respite care to all veterans, regardless of when they served.

Of the 5.5 million caregivers who provide support to current and former service members, roughly 80%, (4.4 million) are caring for veterans from military service prior to 2001. The majority of caregivers are spouses who receive very little in the way of benefits or support.

Expanding the VA’s caregiver support program is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do, as family caregivers not only enhance the quality of life for those they care for, but also save the government significantly in long-term health care costs.

And with some 57% of veteran caregivers over the age of 55, they are more likely to experience health concerns of their own, which could result in increased strain on both the veteran and the caregiver.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Hollywood & Veterans Join Forces On Panel

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By Debbie Gregory.

Recently the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) hosted a panel discussion of how veterans entering the film and TV industry can help bridge the military-civilian gap in society.

Prominent actors, executive producers and industry executives gathered at Paramount Studios, joined by some 300 military veterans who are both in and entering the film industry. Many of the veterans in the room were aspiring actors, writers, and directors.

The military-civilian divide is well documented, as 84 percent of post-9/11 veterans believe that the American public has no understanding of the challenges facing this generation of veterans and military families.  More than almost any other story-telling medium, the television and film industry can play a powerful and enduring role in shaping the cultural narrative that will come to define this group of veterans, and tell the stories of the Iraq and Afghanistan generation of veterans.

The panel of experts included Contessa Brewer (moderator), Syracuse University alum and NBC reporter, actor and veteran J.R. Martinez, NCIS Executive Producer Scott Williams, and David Gale, CEO of We Are The Mighty and former President of MTV Films.

The panel also encouraged the veterans to seek out other mediums, including YouTube, webisodes, documentaries, and Snapchat.

Scott Williams shared that the NCIS crew has around 100 veterans working as grips, camera operators, and in construction.

Wounded warrior, motivational speaker and Dancing With the Stars winner J.R. Martinez, who got his acting break playing Brot Monroe on All My Children, explained it’s important to get past the uniform and see the human being. “A veteran is more than a veteran. A veteran is a son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother. There are dangers in stereotyping; we need to understand who they are as a person.”

Another theme is how Hollywood needs to change how it thinks of military veterans.  “Right now veterans are used as advisors on specific projects,” said Gale.

The IVMF endeavors to advance the post-service lives of America’s veterans and their families. IVMF’s professional staff delivers unique and innovative programs in career, vocations, and entrepreneurship education and training to post 9/11 veterans and active duty military spouses, as well as tailored programs to veterans of all eras.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Jobless Rate Rises for Post 9/11 Veterans in January

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By Debbie Gregory.

In 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a program giving employers tax credits to encourage veteran employment. Other programs also have encouraged companies and government agencies to hire veterans.

In spite of those efforts, the unemployment rate for the youngest generation of veterans jumped to 6.3 percent in January, the fourth time in the last seven months that group’s figure has been substantially higher than the overall veteran rate.

The figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reflect the last month of President Barack Obama’s time in office, represent about 211,000 Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans looking for work. That’s almost 46 percent of the total of all U.S. veterans filing for unemployment benefits in January.

Young veterans, the ones between the ages of 18 and 34, face challenges in the employment marketplace that non-veterans never have to face and that older veterans have already overcome.

In many cases, it is hard to translate the work that was done in the service to a civilian equivalence. There are also few calls for riflemen, artillery spotters, missile technicians and many other military positions.

The January 2017 veteran unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, compared to the non-veteran rate of 5.0 percent. In December, the Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans’ rate was 5.7 percent.

With additional training and responsibility, the unemployment rate of young veterans should be lower than the rest of the population. That’s why the higher number of unemployed younger veterans does raise concerns.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics officials estimate that nearly 9.8 million veterans are in the U.S. workforce today, with roughly 32 percent of them having served in the military after 2001.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Rand Study Reveals Interesting Findings Re: Veteran Unemployment

rand study

By Debbie Gregory.

According to a 15 year RAND study, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are not having as much of a difficult time finding employment as some sources would have the public believe.

There are still many hurdles to overcome, with the study revealing that veterans aged 18 to 24 who have recently separated have struggled to find jobs compared to the same demographic in the civilian population. With that said, part of that statistical information may be due to the fact that this age group is opting to use their education benefits and attend school rather than working full time jobs.

Other post-9/11 veterans do not have a much higher unemployment rate than their civilian counterparts. While the media relies on data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics for its reporting, RAND looked at the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, where the sample size is much larger. Utilizing these numbers, the RAND study shows that post-9/11 veteran unemployment is not so different when compared to demographically similar non-veterans.

Also factoring in to the unemployment statistics is the number of veterans who are receiving unemployment benefits. With that said, the RAND study found that the majority of veterans receiving unemployment benefits were reservists returning from mobilization in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The RAND study found that tax credits for hiring veterans, such as the Vow to Hire Heroes Act and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, have had a positive effect on veteran hiring.

So have programs designed to improve veterans’ transition and employment opportunities, such as the 100,000 Jobs Mission, which has exceeded expectations.

Whether you are an employer looking to reach the veteran community with your job openings, an institution of higher learning, or a member of the military, a veteran or a supporter, we hope you will reach out to MilitaryConnection.com.  We are known as “the Go To Site” and have of the most comprehensive online directories of resources and information for our audience.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Survey Reveals Increase in Post-9/11 Veterans who have Considered Suicide

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By Debbie Gregory.

A new survey of more than 3000 post-9/11 veterans by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) revealed an increase over a previous study in the number who contemplated suicide since joining the service. IAVA is the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

The survey found that 40 percent of veterans polled had considered suicide at least once after they joined the military, up from 30 percent in 2014. Many of those survey also expressed feelings that the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments aren’t doing enough to address the suicide problem, as well as addressing mental health injuries, with 80 percent believing their peers aren’t getting the care they need.

“It shows that mental health challenges and access to care continue to impact veterans in all facets of their lives,” IAVA CEO Paul Reickhoff said in a release accompanying the survey results.

The statistic on veteran suicide is typically quotes as 22 veterans each day, which is a national tragedy.

Nearly 60 percent said a family or friend suggested they seek mental health treatment and 77 percent said they sought help because of these suggestions.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of non-profit organizations that are working to address veteran suicides and eliminate them. Many of them have been formed by veterans who are looking out for their brother and sisters. Many of them are working to destigmatize mental health issues and show that asking for help is truly courageous.

The passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act of 2015 was a landmark, bi-partisan effort that showed America its politicians can work together, and that veterans’ issues are everyone’s issues.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

A Growing Army of Caregivers

caregiver

By Debbie Gregory.

Family caregivers provide crucial support in caring for veterans. The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act was signed into law in May, 2010. The law acknowledges the critical role of caregivers for seriously injured post- 9/11 veterans, and establishes a national program that addresses the wellness and training of family caregivers.

Due to advances in combat medicine and technology, more troops are surviving injuries that would have been fatal in past conflicts. But when they return home, they face life with devastating physical and psychological injuries.

The post-9/11 era produced 1.1 million caregivers, with about 20 percent of them caring for veterans.

The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act offers caregivers a monthly stipend, as well as healthcare coverage, training, respite care and mental health counseling.

Eligibility for the stipend is evaluated annually and ranges from $650 to $2,300 a month, based on the severity of the injuries and the geographic location of the caregiver and veteran. It is currently only available to those who care for Post 9/11 veterans. About 20 percent of these veterans have traumatic brain injury, and 64 percent struggle with mental health or substance abuse.

The VA has since partnered with Easter Seals to provide caregiver training in several formats: classroom, workbook and online. Overall, about 30,000 caregivers have received training.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation commissioned the first evidence-based study focused on the needs of military caregivers. Hidden Heroes, conducted by the RAND Corporation, found that almost half of the post-9/11 caregivers are between 18 and 30 years old, without a lot of financial stability and with no previous training in caregiving. And the commitment is taking a toll: More than one-third meet the criteria for probable depression.

“Our nation has a clear responsibility to better support America’s military and veteran caregivers,” said former Sen. Elizabeth Dole. “This is not a short-term problem in need of a quick solution. . . . Our nation cannot let these caregivers take on this role alone.”

If you think you fit the criteria for these services, please follow the link to answer some preliminary questions and download an application at http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/resources/Caregiver_Eligibility_Check.asp

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.