In today’s society, it is fairly well known that members of our Armed Forces face significant financial challenges. When I was in the U.S. Air Force, many times some of my younger airmen would get into trouble for financial irresponsibility. Some of them actually thought that as long as they had checks in the checkbook, that they had money in the bank. Many wrote checks accordingly, and then get into trouble for bouncing checks. Why did this happen?
The Air Force discovered no one had ever educated these young airmen, many of whom were married, as to how to properly handle finances. Soon, programs were developed that taught the younger troops how to handle a checkbook, and many of these problems disappeared.
Far more serious problems exist, especially for the newly separated troops, now Veterans, who are facing this monumental challenge: many are going under financially. According to USA Today, military families are nearly twice as likely to have credit card balances in excess of $10,000, and nearly one out of three enlisted/junior non-commissioned officers have accounts with predatory lenders like payday loans. Being unemployed and having mountains of debt, some facing foreclosure or bankruptcy, more and more marriages end up in divorce, which only causes additional pressure and frustration on these already overburdened young troops and their families.
Anyway you look at it, war is a nasty business, getting worse with every passing day. Not only does technology advance, seemingly by the hour, but there are entire corporations built on the single premise of war, how to fight it, coming up with more lethal weapons and how to use them, and newer, more grotesque ways of killing each other. War has become a science all unto itself. And the service member is caught smack in the middle of it all.
Being trained in the use of these new super-weapons and their technology, exposes the men and women of our military to horrors that most civilians think would only be in the movies, but they’re not; these things are real, and our troops have to deal with the repercussions of these new and deadly technologies. When they come home, they often have either new or very rare conditions that most in the medical world have never encountered before, and are therefore lost as to how to effectively treat these Vets.
Although new super-illnesses are real, what about the more common types of injuries that our heroes face? A very primitive but highly effective device used by the enemy is known as the Improvised Explosive Device, or IED. This one type of device can cause wounds ranging from cuts and burns, to mutilating injuries that result in amputation and even death. The types of injuries in-between can come in the form of concussions, hearing or vision loss, nerve damage of all sorts, and the list goes on and on.
Recent news reports highlight the vast and growing problems with the Veteran’s Administration hospitals, the extremely long wait times for appointments, and the poor care in general that our returning Vets receive, and yes, there’s still more….
When I was discharged, in December, 1992, right after Operation Desert Storm, I did like so many others. I had no real problem finding a job back then, but the economy was much stronger too. I went to different schools, trying to better myself, but was unable to use any of my VA Educational benefits. As Desert Storm was not yet recognized by Congress, so my education fell completely on my shoulders. I recently decided to go to college to make a complete career path change, but soon discovered that my VA benefits were severely limited, both in dollars and in time to use; I nearly lost what benefits I had because no one told me of the time limits involved.
For the Veteran student, several problems must be overcome in order to get or continue a higher education. The question of financing the education is uppermost in mind for a vast majority of students, as most are not well-off financially. Another is the adjustment from the battle-field to the classroom, and lastly, the complex transition from military to civilian life. The more challenges that the Veteran student faces, the more likely they are to fall into a “stop-gap” situation. This is bad not only for the student, but the institution as well, because the Veteran student might well not finish the educational process at all.
Reader Value As a Veteran and student, I have seen and experienced many of the roadblocks and barriers that the Veteran students face, and it is my hope to bring attention to these and other problems faced daily by our Veterans, and to express how much we, as a grateful nation, need to correct these problems faced by our military heroes. They have given our country so much, and we, as the best nation on earth, need to step up to the plate, get a firm grip on the bat, and hit a new home-run for our Veterans….God Bless America!
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