Veteran’s Affairs Essay

Anonymous Journalist

Improving Veteran Care
Following years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a startling 20% of veterans come home with either PTSD or depression (Rand 2019 ). These numbers are only getting worse and little is being done to address them. Money is the clear way to fix these problems, but the VA, or Veterans Affairs, does not have the funding it needs. Therefore, Congress should increase the Veteran Affairs budget so that it can better serve the mental health needs of veterans.

One reason the government should increase the VA’s budget is so it can address the many problems in the current Veterans Affairs system. “According to the Organization, it is trying to fill 400 vacancies to add to its roster of primary care doctors,” (APHA 2020). There are veterans who aren’t getting care from the VA. The VA could try to hire more people and buy more office buildings for them to work at. They could also figure out a way to fix the employing plan. As well as this, there is extremely poor scheduling and planning to get veterans the help they need. According to the APHA, it was also reported that these veterans were “at risk of being lost or forgotten in Phoenix Health Care Systems convoluted scheduling practices.” I’m sure some veterans are not harmed by this, and it may not seem life threatening. But if a mentally unstable person was to seek help, got put on a waitlist, and was subsequently forgotten, it might lead to them committing suicide or otherwise harming themselves. The VA should have an entire team that is constantly making these systems better.

Secondly, the military is very harsh about encouraging these soldiers not to get help with mental health problems-stigma can affect many of these veterans. For these veterans, the stigma occurs when the training tells these soldiers that getting help for mental illnesses is bad because you are admitting that you are weak. “Military culture promotes inner strength, self-reliance, and the ability to shake off injury,” (APHA 2020). The fact that these veterans are being taught not to get help with their problems can be very harmful. The military should add training so that when a veteran is having a mental problem, veterans know it isn’t bad and they should get help as quickly as possible. Another reason is that “No more than 40% of soldiers suffering from mental health issues use mental health services, and as few as half of those who seek care follow through on clinical referrals,” (APHA 2020). More than half of veterans don’t seek help. This is partly the military’s fault, but some of the blame also falls on the VA. If the VA started a new, internet based counseling system, they could reach out to people more easily and these veterans could get help right from their homes.

Even if increasing the VA’s budget might seem easy, it won’t be. Mental health services are extremely complicated and cost copious amounts of money. “Demand for mental health services could become a ‘bottomless pit,’ committing taxpayers to endless costs for endless amounts of treatment,” (APHA 2020). The amount of money that this will cost will cause a big dent in the government’s resources. Also, PTSD and depression are “invisible” illnesses. They are almost impossible to track, and even if they are tracked, they are still hard to treat. “For a veteran suffering from PTSD, there is not a single path to healing those invisible wounds. A veteran may require years and years of counseling and therapy to adjust back to civilian life,” (APHA 2020). Although this is true, if someone at an office building breaks their leg because something fell on them, they don’t have to pay for the hospital bills. Why is it fair that veterans get no extra money if the cause of their mental illness is their service in the war? Also, the cost of these mental illnesses is huge, but the costs of these veterans dying is even greater. Having to pay for these veterans’ funerals and other costs of their deaths like lost productivity, reduced quality of life, homelessness, domestic violence, the strain on families, and suicide is not worth it. Even if the loss of it didn’t cost money, a person’s life is priceless in itself. The government would save a lot of money if they just agreed to increase the VA’s budget.

Congress should increase the veteran affairs budget so that veterans coming back from wars can have more support with their mental health problems. Doing this would benefit society greatly because there would be less homelessness, alcoholism, and money spent on suicide expenses. If these veterans risk their lives trying to help the country, the least we can do is try to help them lessen their mental health struggles.