The Financial and Employment Challenges Facing Out-of-Work Veterans
Back in February, Esquire ran a compelling long-form article with the man who shot and killed Osama Bin Laden. Speaking under anonymity (and dubbed simply ‘The Shooter’), the Navy Seal’s tale is a sensational account of what occurred during that historic night in the Abbottabad compound and entirely worth reading.
But the central hook of the piece wasn’t, as one would expect, the conflict leading up to bin Laden’s death; instead, it was the personal turmoil The Shooter faced on returning home. The story covered the (frankly shocking) lack of state care offered to the warrior and his family after retiring from active service, which he did immediately following the operation. Despite being one of the country’s many nameless military heroes, he is currently subsisting on whatever menial work he can get in order to get by.
But despite the uniqueness of that particular mission, The Shooter’s situation itself is unfortunately all too common.
The Current Support Network
There are veteran-specific benefits available for ex-service men and women. In addition, companies and educational institutions are becoming more aware of the challenges facing veteran families and making provisions for them; this is evidenced by the growth of the
100 Military Employers and Schoolslist which features some very recognizable brands. The Post 9/11 GI Bill in particular (especially with recent changes to the Bill) has been useful in getting many veterans back to training.
Unfortunately, it’s not yet enough to adequate care for all of our returning soldiers. As it stands, 1.5 million veterans are at risk of losing their homes due to a lack of financial support – further dismal figures highlighted by the Center for American Progress last year include:
- One in ten veterans suffering from disabilities were found to be unemployed in 2010
- Nearly one million ex-service professionals were classed as being ‘in poverty’ at some point over the course of 2010
- A shocking $31 million was issued in food stamps to vets during 2008; while more up to date figures are not available, it’s likely to have gotten worse in the years following the financial collapse coinciding with an increased number of returning soldiers.
In the face of the facts, it’s easy to see that while we have one of the best veteran care systems in the world, even it is not delivering at an optimum level.
Seeking Alternative Support
Food banks are becoming an increasingly common sight in towns across the country. Community-run kitchens and support groups which run outside of public funding.
In the face of desperation, families often have to resort to fairly extreme measures, too – when you’re facing the foreclosure of your home, even the most fiscally savvy among us can be tempted by illegal lending by loan sharks. This nearly always only compounds the problem in the long run.
Fortunately, we live in a country in which there are legal and regulated solutions to short-term financial set backs. Payday loans, when used responsibly, can be one of the only safe and effective options of getting through to the end of the month and even fairly affluent workers use them in times of sudden, unexpected hardship.
While the need to provide an adequate support network for those who have given so much to the country is still prevalent, it’s heartening to know that there are still a scant few provisions for those who find themselves temporarily down on their luck.