In the US, this is a day to honor our veterans. They have served our country around the world, by protecting American freedoms and democracy. In addition, the US military has also assisted in securing freedom for other nations throughout our country's history.
According to Military.com, "This holiday started as a day to reflect upon the heroism of those who died in our country's service and was originally called Armistice Day. It fell on Nov. 11 because that is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. However, in 1954, the holiday was changed to "Veterans Day" in order to account for all veterans in all wars."
Wars over the years have left scars on our American psyche, and that can be even more true for our veterans. Many US veterans are disabled, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), "Common injuries experienced by veterans include missing limbs, spinal cord injuries, burns, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hearing loss, traumatic brain injuries, and other impairments." These disabilities can effect veterans for the rest of their lives, long after most of them have left the military.
As of 2019, approximately 30% of US veterans have a disability. Many receive disability benefits, or disability retirement, from the military. For those who are not completely disabled, they can have troube with re-entering the workforce. Sometimes, that is due to workplace discrimination, other times it is due to the differences between the military and civilian jobs.
Fortunately, there are laws in place to help veterans as they are attempting to apply for jobs. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—protect veterans from employment discrimination.
These laws unfortunately do not always stop discrimination, but veterans can either file lawsuits for discrimination, or they can seek employment with the Federal Government, which offers special hiring incentives for military incentives.
The programs offering special incentives for hiring veterans are called Hiring Authorities. According to the EEOC, "Here are some of the special hiring authorities that may apply to you if you are looking for a job with the federal government:
The Veterans' Recruitment Appointment (VRA) program allows agencies to appoint eligible veterans without competition.
The Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA) can be used when filling permanent, competitive service positions. It allows veterans to apply for jobs that are only open to "status" candidates, which means "current competitive service employees."
The Schedule A Appointing Authority, though not specifically for veterans, allows agencies to appoint eligible applicants who have a severe physical, psychological, or intellectual disability."
If you, or anyone you know, is a disabled veteran then you may want to look into these special hiring authorities to obtain a good job with the Federal Government. My dad was a disabled veteran, and was able to obtain a job with the Postal Service after getting out of the military. Another benefit of these jobs is that the time served in the military counts toward your retirement from Federal service. This may mean that veterans will be able to retire sooner from a Federal job than from a private company.
Veterans With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
In addition to struggling with gaining employment and coping with medical issues, many veterans also struggle with PTSD. This is a mental health condition that is caused by traumas that have been experienced by our veterans.
As a child, I grew up hearing about PTSD from my dad too. He was a Viet Nam era veteran, and came back with mental scars from war, in addition to his physical scars. Although he didn't talk much to me about his time in the military, I was peripherally aware that he had seen things in the war that he struggled with all his life. For a while, he went to therapy at the VA, and I hope that it helped him, although he never talked about that either.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs provides resources for veterans experiencing PTSD. They describe PTSD as follows, "Sometimes, when you experience a traumatic event — a car accident, an IED blast, military sexual trauma, or the death of a fellow Service member — that moment can continue to bother you weeks, months, and even years later.
That can mean reliving the event: constantly replaying it in your head. It can mean avoiding places or things that remind you of the experience. It can also mean nightmares, sleeplessness, or anxiety. You might feel numb or, conversely, feel hyperaware of your surroundings.
The symptoms and effects of posttraumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD, can disrupt your everyday life. People with PTSD sometimes withdraw from their family members and friends. They can find it hard to concentrate, startle easily, and lose interest in things they used to care about. Some may try to dull their feelings by misusing alcohol or drugs.
If you think you might have PTSD, there are resources to help you recover. Even if your symptoms come and go — or surfaced months or years after the traumatic event — effective treatments are available."
Experiencing PTSD symptoms can be harrowing, with veterans unable to function as they did before the trauma. At times, it can feel like your own mind is turning against you. It is important to keep this in mind if you have a friend or loved one who has returned from war. It is very possible that even if they don't have any outward injuries, a lot has likely changed for them.
If your friend or loved one appears to be struggling with mental anguish as a result of deployment, you can offer compassion, a listening ear, or suggest that they seek help through the VA.
Althout many people think that PTSD is a "new" condition, it is something that science and medicine have been aware of for many years. During World War I, PTSD was previously referred to as Shell Shock, a term that was developed by the soldiers themselves.
According to the American Psychological Association, Shell Shock "was often diagnosed when a soldier was unable to function and no obvious cause could be identified." As more soldiers became shell shocked, research began into the condition. This was the first research into the condition that we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The original research on shell shock was undertaken by psychologist Charles Myers. According to his research, "The first cases Myers described exhibited a range of perceptual abnormalities, such as loss of or impaired hearing, sight and sensation, along with other common physical symptoms, such as tremor, loss of balance, headache and fatigue. He concluded that these were psychological rather than physical casualties, and believed that the symptoms were overt manifestations of repressed trauma."
Now that almost 100 years have passed since that original research, there is much more help available for veterans with PTSD.
Even when war is over, veterans of US wars can experience much upheval in their lives as a result of their veteran status. Many come home scarred by the events that they have experienced in wars. Veterans Day is a great way to commemorate all of the sacrifices that they have made, and to acknowledge their continued suffering.
When we see veterans in our daily lives, it is important to show them compassion and gratitide for their sacrifices. We can do this on Veterans Day, and every day throughout the year.
If you want to help Disabled Veterans further, you can make donations to the Disabled Veterans Charity.
Please let me know what you think in the comments, and feel free to share any stories about disabled veterans that you may know. Also, let me know if there are any additional topics that you would like me to cover in further articles.