A record number of veterans are heading back to school. One incentive has been the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It enhanced education benefits, starting in 2009. They now cover undergraduate tuition and provide veterans with a monthly living allowance and book stipend. To be eligible, a vet must have served on active duty after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and not exhausted prior GI benefits.
No matter what federal or state aid former soldiers have received however, WUWM’s Erin Toner learned that some have found the transition to school difficult and even costly. Local schools are intervening.
There has been some good news recently regarding the status of returning military veterans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 vets nationwide dipped below 10 percent in June. That is a substantial drop from June of last year, when the rate topped 13 percent. While the trend is positive, more young veterans are out of work than the general population. WUWM’s Erin Toner profiles a Racine man who suspects his military disability status frightens employers.
As we head into Memorial Day weekend, we’re going to hear from women veterans whose military service has inspired artwork. A new exhibit at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison features 20 prints that resulted from private conversations between veterans and local artists. As WUWM’s Erin Toner reports, several women say the project helps validate their service to the country.
Monday, we reported on a one-year-old clinic in West Allis treating a growing number of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some say they’re seeking outside therapy because they’re dissatisfied with their VA health care. This morning, WUWM’s Erin Toner revisits the clinic to report on another free service it provides – mental health services for the families of veterans. Family members don’t qualify for care at VA hospitals.
An alarming number of suicides among American soldiers has/have been pressuring the VA to improve mental health services for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. As a result, the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department plans to add nearly 2,000 employees to reduce wait times for appointments. In Milwaukee, a growing number of vets dissatisfied with the VA have been supplementing their government care with therapy at an outside clinic. As WUWM’s Erin Toner reports, it offers a less structured approach.
The Milwaukee VA hospital is asking veterans to help build the world’s largest medical database. The effort is called the “Million Veteran Program”. Its goal is to collect blood samples and medical histories from a million vets nationwide, and eventually, make the information available to researchers. As WUWM’s Erin Toner reports, organizers hope the data leads to medical breakthroughs, including for ailments that afflict service men and women.
The Milwaukee VA is shortening its residential mental health treatment programs. Doctors there say the shortened stay from 90 to 45 days will mean more intense treatment and will make it easier for veterans to transition back into society sooner.
But as Erin Toner reported for NPR’s Morning Edition, some patients say getting clean and sober is just the first step in their recovery. They worry about being pushed out too soon.