Veterans should be able to enjoy a tranquil and productive life on return to American shores, but the reality is often far from that. Military.com has described the current situation pertaining to depression and mental health in veterans to be a crisis, and official figures support that assertion. Veterans are a particularly vulnerable group on return to civilian society, and transition can be a difficult thing to process. Communities can, and should, provide a mountain of support for these modern-day heroes to help them resettle fully.
Through programs like the VA home loan, veterans do have a myriad of options available to them on return from active duty. Unfortunately, for many veterans, the dream isn’t as good as promised; their own mental health conditions, prevailing market issues, and the quality of housing can make it hard for them to get their foot on the ladder – or even into rental. Where the safety net falls through, communities can help. One study published by the NIHs showed that community integration can have a wonderfully positive impact on housing retention and onwards mental health treatment.
Helping with mental health
Veterans have often seen and experienced severe trauma, leaving them with conditions like PTSD and physical conditions that require strong medication. SAMHSA reports that 1 in 5 veterans have experienced substance abuse, and it’s not hard to see why. Once again, communities can help. A proper support network, friendly faces, and shoulders to lean on can all help to abridge substance abuse problems and tackle underlying mental illness.
A friendly face
The most important point is perhaps the simplest one – community matters. There is plenty of evidence to show that strong communities benefit everyone, not just veterans. Providing that to people who are returning and leaving their own community – their company – behind is something generous as well as something of a civic duty. The public can do plenty to help veterans in material terms, but the simple emotional benefits of being in a strong interconnected community cannot be underestimated.
Through that, the community will benefit too. Veterans are hard workers, disciplined individuals, and come with skills that any family can benefit from. Providing that help and being the best possible support network there can be will enrich everyone’s lives in the long run, not just that of the veteran and his or her family.