Leave no veteran behind: The 9.4 million on Social Security

VeteranOne of every four adults on Social Security is a U.S. military veteran. That’s 9.4 million beneficiaries who have defended the country. And their families? Almost 40 percent of the adult Social Security beneficiary population are composed of veterans and their families, according to the Social Security Administration.

Veterans face unique health challenges. Those who served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq most commonly report musculoskeletal ailments, mental health disorders, and other non-specific symptoms of fatigue, cognitive problems, social problems, and more.

Considering the conditions military members are subject to–infectious diseases, chemical exposure, extreme noise exposure, and conditions conducive to traumatic brain injuries and urologic injuries–it’s no wonder these veterans return with a multitude of health problems that require special attention.

“This is a population that has unique health care needs that need to be addressed,” said Dr. Stephen Hunt of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in a Live Science article. “It’s something that really needs to be [addressed] by a team. We can’t do it without the collaboration of other providers, and the knowledge and presence of the community.”

This collaboration comes from a wealth of contributors, locally and nationally, who provide veterans and their families with resources of information, education, advocacy, support, partnerships, and more.

Top Three Resources

1. NAMI for Veterans

In a simple, direct layout, the National Alliance on Mental Illness presents a comprehensive list of online resources and tools to for veterans and their families. Tools include information on dealing with PTSD as well as support groups and specific research on veterans who are minorities, homeless, and more. NAMI is one of the most trusted sources for information and dissemination of resources on mental health-related issues.

2. Wounded Warrior Project

Though recently founded in 2002, the Wounded Warrior Project is already well-known for its mission “to help injured service members aid and assist each other,” and “to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.” Its programs are available upon proof of service and dependent on a few other qualifications. The many resources it provides are known for being less bureaucratic and more effective than those in many government programs.

3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a reliable department that offers caregiver support with both local coordinators and a 6-week online workshop. There is also a coaching program designed to train people to help their family member or loved one who has returned from war and is struggling to adjust. It also includes the useful National Center for PTSD’s military resources.

Other Resources

  • Utah has its own department for veterans and a summary of all state benefits can be found on the MyArmyBenefits site
  • The University of Utah has compiled a simple but helpful list of the resources available to military veterans, as well as relevant studies.
  • Special Social Security credits for veterans are available. Veterans who were on active military duty receive special Social Security wage credits which are added to their earning records. These earnings, averaged over a lifetime, result in higher monthly payments. Learn more at AARP.org.
  • Social Security benefits (SSI and SSDI): Veterans have the advantage that military pay does not necessarily affect payment of Social Security disability benefits.
  • The U.S. Army resources page includes links to VSOs and MSOs and explains how “community organizations help tell the Army story. Veterans’ service organizations (VSOs) and military service organizations (MSOs) have taken on the integral mission of caring for the soldiers and their families. Our VSOs and MSOs provide tremendous support and are our advocates before Congress, third-party spokespeople, grassroots influencers to communities, and the nurturing hand standing behind those in uniform every day.” You can join, find a community, and make a difference for yourself, your family, and other veterans.




Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army via Creative Commons