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. [See our ongoing coverage of veterans' health issues here.]
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.
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.
STORY FEED: AFTER COMBAT, A WAIT [full coverage here]
AUDIO, PHOTO and STORY | Financial relief for military families
Arizona is one of a handful of states with a relief fund that offers emergency grants to help vulnerable service members, veterans and their families. Learn how the fund became a financial stopgap for one young veteran as he waited more than a year on his disability claim.
Reporters: Jeff Severns Guntzel, senior reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Links: Audio embed available on SoundCloud | Story and photo available at publicinsightnetwork.org
STORY and PHOTOS | Homelessness and disability benefits
The VA has set a goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. But it may be too big a problem to solve. Disability payments can mean the difference between sleeping under a roof or on the street.
Reporters: Samara Freemark, producer/reporter (email@example.com) | Photos by Michel Duarte for the PIN
Links: Audio embed available on SoundCloud | Story and photos available at publicinsightnetwork.org
AUDIO SLIDESHOW, PHOTOS and STORY | Mixed martial arts as therapy for PTSD
A group of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — some with post-traumatic stress diagnoses — have joined a mixed martial arts club in Mesa, Ariz. They say the training helps them work off stress and aggression and relieves symptoms of their combat experience.
Producers: Audio by Samara Freemark | Photos by Brandon Quester for the PIN | Produced by Meg Martin, associate editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Links: Story and audio slideshow available at publicinsightnetwork.org | Additional audio/photo profiles at publicinsightnetwork.org and SoundCloud
QUESTIONS WE POSED TO THE NETWORK [Find the query here ]
- When people who have no experience in the military learn about your military experience, what one question do you wish they would ask that they do not?
- How does that sentiment resonate with you?
Please credit American Public Media’s Public Insight Network (publicinsightnetwork.org) when using these materials.
Additional crediting materials (links, images and an Insight button) are available in our Dropbox folder.
This package was produced by these members of the Public Insight Network’s national editorial team:
Jeff Severns Guntzel – reporter (email@example.com, 651-290-1226)
Samara Freemark – producer/reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-290-1289)
Meg Martin – associate editor (email@example.com, 651-290-1055)
Jeff Jones – engagement editor (firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-290-1274)
Melody Ng – PIN analyst (email@example.com, 651-290-1499)
Kate Moos – executive producer (firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-290-1318)