Forty percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have a service-connected disability for which they have not filed a claim, according to a survey out by the Iraq-Afghanistan Veterans of America.
The 200-question survey was conducted during the first three months of 2014, sent out by the IAVA to its veteran members. More than 2,000 responded to the survey.
The survey highlights the increased need for outreach to inform veterans of the benefits available to them and how they can access those benefits.
According to a statement by IAVA Chief Executive Officer Paul Rieckhoff, the survey is “our best intel, and it often identifies problems long before they reach public prominence.”
The survey shows little improvement in awareness of available benefits among veterans since the National Survey of Veterans in 2010. That survey found that nearly 40 percent of Gulf War veterans had little knowledge of benefits or how to get them, a number that increased to nearly 60 percent when Vietnam-era veterans answered that question.
Other findings in the survey:
• 67 percent of respondents rated the VA as “fair” or “poor.”
• 76 percent rated the Department of Defense as “fair” or “poor.”
• 14 percent rated President Obama as “extremely proactive” or “somewhat proactive” on veterans issues.
• 8 percent rated Congress as “extremely proactive” or “somewhat proactive” on veterans issues.
• 40 percent of IAVA members know at least one Iraq or Afghan vet who committed suicide.
• 47 percent know of at least one Iraq-Afghanistan vet who attempted suicide.
• 31 percent of IAVA respondents acknowledged having thought of committing suicide since joining the military.
• 53 percent of respondents reported a mental health injury, and 73 percent of those say they are receiving treatment currently.
• 18 percent have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, or TBI.
• 44 percent have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
• 70 percent of respondents who filed a disability claim waited more than 120 days for the VA to adjudicate the claim.
• 63 percent of veterans filing disability claims said they were hurt financially while waiting for the VA to adjudicate their claim.
• 62 percent of respondents report taking advantage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
• 78 percent of those veterans rate the Post 9/11 GI Bill as “Good” or “Excellent.”
• 36 percent of these veterans said that late payments by the VA as a major challenge to using the benefit. The VA’s payments often do not meet the school, college or university’s deadline for payments.
How do these figures square with your experiences or viewpoints?