Survey: Injured vets say they need more help
(MILITARY TIMES) More than half of all veterans who describe themselves as “seriously” hurt or wounded from combat or peacetime service say the government did not give them “all the help … it should,” according to a Pew Research Center survey released today.
In comparison with ex-servicemembers who were either unharmed or suffered lesser injuries, badly hurt veterans report more difficulty readjusting to civilian life, wrestling with mental illness or holding jobs.
Twenty-eight percent of seriously injured veterans work full-time; half are jobless.
Within that group of seriously injured veterans, those who served after 9/11 are more likely than veterans from earlier eras to be dissatisfied with their lives and assistance.
Half say they are “very satisfied” with their family lives, compared with two-thirds of older veterans who are seriously hurt and express this view. Two-thirds of this post-9/11 group of seriously injured veterans say they are unhappy with the assistance government has provided.
“Those who need it the most are the ones most likely to say they did not get the help they needed,” said Rich Morin, a Pew Research editor who wrote the report.
The center surveyed 1,853 veterans by telephone or online from July to August. The results focused on 227 veterans who said they were “seriously hurt” during their service, most of them in combat in Vietnam, Korea, World War II or wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The margin of error for results on seriously hurt veterans was +/-9.8 percentage points.
William Winkenwerder, who served as the Pentagon’s top medical officer from 2001 to 2006, cautioned about a wide error margin in the small sampling. But he said medical advances — which have saved lives on the battlefield that would have been lost in previous wars — have left this generation of badly hurt veterans with more complex and disabling wounds.
“You’re getting into a group of people who are dealing in many cases with multiple problems and issues physically, psychologically and socially with their families,” says Winkenwerder, who operates a health care consulting firm and advises the Bob Woodruff Foundation on assisting veterans.
Two-thirds or more of seriously hurt post-9/11 veterans report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and struggling to return to civilian life and say the Department of Veterans Affairs does only a fair to poor job of helping them.
Seven of 10 badly hurt veterans who left the service before 9/11 rate their military medical care as positive compared with 55percent of their post 9/11 peers, the survey says.
About a third of those surveyed, the largest single group, served in Vietnam. Eighteen percent have served since 9/11.