OurVetSuccess today announced, "U.S. Veterans - Better Than Ever," a national program to increase public awareness of veterans who are successful.
The Better than Ever program will expand the company's television programming and digital content development to include targeted messaging that balances the national narrative about military veterans.
"The reality is, more than 90% of post 9/11 veterans are not in crisis ... While pervasive, due in large part to the tens of thousands of non-profit organizations that seek donations from the public to 'help veterans,' this depiction is not factual."
"The reality is, more than 90% of post 9/11 veterans are not in crisis," said Mary L. Hagy, an Army veteran and CEO of OurVetSuccess, a Philadelphia-based company committed to showcasing military veterans at their best. "While pervasive, due in large part to the tens of thousands of non-profit organizations that seek donations from the public to 'help veterans,' this depiction is not factual."
As an example, Hagy suggests, "The Wounded Warrior Project estimates with the $800 million raised to date, it has treated some 83,000 veterans, or .02% of the 3.2 million who served after 9/11. Every wounded warrior deserves treatment and assistance. To raise funds, veterans continue to be presented as a class of people who are all in crisis. Better Than Ever will aggregate and promote factual information to enable the public to have a balanced view of veterans."
Some of the information presented in the program:
The Congressional Research Service, in its June 2015 profile, U.S. Military Casualty Statistics, reported that between Oct. 7, 2001 and July 28, 2015, a total of 52,531, or .01%, of veterans were wounded in all Post 9/11 wars. Further, the report states that over the same 14 years, the Department of Defense diagnosed 177,461 cases of post-traumatic stress, or .05% of service members. https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22452.pdf
Some 327,299 Traumatic Brain Injury cases were reported by CRS, from wherever service members were stationed, including U.S. bases. Of those cases, 291,284, or 88%, were diagnosed as mild, as in a concussion, or not classifiable. https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22452.pdf
In its Dec. 2015 Charting the Sea of Goodwill report on philanthropy, the Center for New American Security in Washington DC cites 42,035 non-profit veteran and military service organizations with revenue and assets of $2.7 billion, a cache $1 billion higher than any other charitable segment. With 29,109, or 69% of the organizations, listing revenues of less than $100,000, the Center reports a trend of “warchesting” large amounts of non-profit cash. http://www.cnas.org/charting-sea-of-goodwill#.VrUSd_krLjY
Given the numbers of veterans who need service, and the fact that those in need can receive treatment from the taxpayer-funded Department of Veteran Affairs, which in February 2016 requested $182 billion in President Obama's 2017 budget, the reasons for retaining the non-profit funds are unclear. http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2746
Veteran homelessness is another widespread message. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that on any given night in January, 2015, 47,725 veterans (all wars) across the country were homeless, .002% of the entire living veteran population of 21 million. On December 31, 2015, urban areas such as New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans and even the state of Virginia, declared that they had “ended veteran homelessness.” https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2015-AHAR-Part-1.pdf
While impossible to prove and carry caveats such as “functionally eliminated,” such efforts underscore the resources and emphasis being placed on eliminating homelessness for a proportionally small group of veterans.
The low homeless rate could be related to higher employment for veterans, which has been rising steadily since 2013. U.S. Department of Labor reports that in 2015, the unemployment rates for veterans declined to 3.9%, compared with a non-veteran rate of 5.4%.
In its 2015 report to the Secretary of Defense, What Veterans Bring to the Workplace, the RAND Corporation outlined the major reasons why, rather than charity cases deserving corporate job donations, veterans offer employers a competitive edge. Technical skills can be taught; character traits such as leadership, decisiveness, critical thinking, continuous learning, teamwork, handling excessive stress, conscientiousness and persistence, can take years -- if ever-- to develop in non-veterans.
"War wounds, brain injuries, homelessness and unemployment are all very important issues that must be addressed" Hagy said. "The point here is that proportionally, national emphasis is being placed on the few, while the majority of veterans who are not suffering have needs as well."
All of which leads to re-framing the national narrative of the veteran as victim to, Fellow American. No hyperbole of all-vets-are-heroes. No righteous exclamations of entitlement to jobs, housing or any other unearned slice of the American dream. Simply, Fellow American.
Adding the 14 years of data from veterans who have been reported as wounded (52,531), those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress (177,461) and those with severe to moderate traumatic brain injury (36,015), we have 266,007, or 8% of the 3.2 million post 9/11 veterans, (including those who did not serve in Iraq and Afghanistan).
Hagy contends the remaining 2.9 million Post 9/11 veterans are also in need. Of what?
Acknowledgement – Veterans are not all heroes, any more than they are all charity cases, or people to be feared, or to be treated gingerly. They want to simply be considered as Fellow Americans who were honored to serve, and are now finding their ways in civilian life.
Assumption of Wholeness – When meeting a person, there is generally an assumption that she or he is living life – family, work, community, with all that comes with the journey. Veterans and their Families are pursuing those things as well, and want to be “regular people.”
Opportunities for Continued Service – Veterans are driven by service for a greater purpose. The gaping hole that is left from departing the military can be filled with service, fellowship and results. An added plus: given a service mission, the veteran will move heaven and earth to accomplish the goal.
"What is the price tag of these needs for 2.9 million post 9/11 veterans?," Hagy asked. "$0."
"'The Better than Ever' program enables us to share the facts about vets, and to promote good communications between military veterans and civilians," she said.