Veterans’ health:
After combat, a wait for disability benefits

American troops are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan only to wait in line.

They’re joining a growing queue of veterans seeking compensation — payments and other support — from the Department of Veterans Affairs for service-related disabilities.

Across the country, local VA offices are having a tough time processing the backlog of more than 800,000 disability claims.

It can take months — sometimes more than a year — for veterans to find out how much, if at all, they’ll be compensated for health issues related to their service.

Here, we share stories from veterans, the people who love them and the organizations, including the VA, who are working to help them navigate life after combat.

 


Veterans: How hard is it to move on from war?

A 2008 survey of returning service members found that about one-third of respondents said they had experienced some type of mental health issue since getting home. As these conflicts wind down, do we fully understand what the experience of combat can do to a person?

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Beyond PTSD to “moral injury”

For service members returning home from combat, PTSD diagnoses are commonplace and extensive. But one VA psychologist argues that the complications of PTSD compound to create a 'moral injury' -- one that requires a community, not a clinic, in order to heal.

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Counting student veterans, finally

Nearly 5 years after the Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect, there's no authoritative data on its progress. But this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs and student-veteran groups are pairing up to change that.

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When “Thank you for your service” isn’t enough

Sometimes "Thank you for your service" is not enough. We've heard this again and again from veterans young and old across the country. They've told us they appreciate the support people show them. But often those words of support don't get them a job. Or speed up their disability claims. Or keep them off the street.

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Stumbling into a career in military social work

When Eugenia Weiss started a career in social work, no one was talking about the needs of combat veterans or military families. She says her colleagues in the field have only recently recognized the unique needs and challenges of that fast-growing population.

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Teaching civilians to care for those who served

Hiring enough mental health staff to serve service members is only so helpful if they don't understand military culture. A unique program at USC is training a new generation of social workers in the specific health issues facing returning servicemen and services and the ins and outs of military rank, jargon and lifestyle.

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Story feed: Veterans wait in line on disability claims

American troops are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan only to wait in line, joining a growing queue of veterans seeking compensation -- payments and other support -- from the Department of Veterans Affairs for service-related disabilities. Across the country, local VA offices are struggling to process the backlog of more than 800,000 disability benefits claims. It can take months -- sometimes more than a year -- for veterans to find out how much, if at all, they'll be compensated for health issues related to their service.

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For veterans, temporary relief from disability waits

More than 800,000 claims for disability benefits are languishing in the VA's overstretched system. Veterans -- often young -- waiting on their claims can find themselves in desperate financial straits. A fund in Arizona acts as a stopgap to get them through.

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Voters’ voices: When one issue matters most

In an election year focused on economic issues more than foreign policy, Kristen McMillen is the exception. She's engaged to an Army infantryman -- and has found herself truly caring about an election's outcome for the first time in her voting life.

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