There can be no greater sacrifice than putting your life on the line serving in the military to defend your country.  But what happens when servicemembers leave the forces and return home?  You may expect that they are rewarded for their duty with limitless care and assistance to overcome any injuries and to readjust to civilian life.  Sadly, the truth is more complicated and many fall on hard times.

Veterans have to tackle unique challenges when returning to civilian life. They are used to following orders but now they have to think for themselves and make their own decisions. Many leave the forces with physical injuries.  Many more seemingly healthy veterans leave the military with PTSD, a mental health condition caused by experiencing or witnessing traumatic events.  The condition can cause feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, guilt and many other destructive emotions.  It’s only in recent years that this condition has been recognized and its long-term effects are only starting to be understood and suitable treatment programs devised.  Relationships often suffer and they may find it hard to obtain work leading to isolation, alcoholism, substance abuse and sometimes suicide.

In the US the Veterans Affairs (VA) Program offers a broad range of benefits, such as finance to pay for home care for veterans and their spouses.  This can assist with meal preparation, bathing and grooming, shopping, dressing and laundry, transportation, and housekeeping.  Other benefits available include healthcare, dentistry, funeral costs, prescriptions and treating addictions.  However, many miss out on the help they need as they are unaware of the program. Others find the application process too challenging or are misinformed that they don’t qualify and therefore don’t receive the benefits they are entitled to.

Kyle Laramie worked in the senior care industry and became aware of this problem.  He set up the Veterans Care Coordination to offer the support necessary so that veterans and their spouses could continue to live in their own homes primarily funded by the VA Aid and Attendance Pension.  This was achievable by:

  1. Working with veterans and their families to help identify their home care needs and benefit entitlements.
  2. Assisting with the application process using experts to cut through the red tape.
  3. Providing interest-free loans to pay for home care while waiting for the application to be approved.
  4. Having partnerships with home care providers so a swift and reliable service can be put in place.
  5. Sourcing necessary medical supplies and equipment and providing long-term support and assistance.

U.S.VETS is another organization that helps support ex-servicemembers.  It was set up by veterans for veterans and they rely on a team of professionals, volunteers and donors to provide a range of services.  Their main focus is on the problem of homelessness.  It estimates that there could be as many as 34000 homeless veterans in the US.  It raises money via donations and fundraising events to help get ex-servicemembers off the streets and provide them and their families with both temporary and permanent housing solutions.  It also provides access to services such as mental health counselling, work-related training and individualized programs so they are better prepared to integrate back into society, gain employment and support themselves going forward.

Thankfully, due to greater awareness and the care and support of organisations such as those mentioned many more veterans and their families are rightfully getting the benefits they need.  However, much more still needs to be done as it’s a matter of great concern that anyone should miss out on their entitlements due to a lack of awareness or support.  After all, we owe them a debt of gratitude for helping to keep the rest of us safe.  The least they should expect is to be allowed to age in relative comfort and with dignity.