Veterans struggle to access programs for civilian life: Report

Politics

(NewsNation) — Veterans say that it can be hard to transition from military life back into civilian life. Although the military has programs set up to help, a new report shows a lot of veterans are struggling to access them.

That’s a problem — as many of these programs are aimed at preventing homelessness, joblessness and veteran suicide.

A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office shows nearly 25% of servicemembers who needed maximum support didn’t attend a mandatory 2-day class, and that most servicemembers don’t start the programs at least 1 year before leaving, as is required.

“You have a lot of resources, but it’s not really well-defined on what you’re going to do next,” Rep. Tony Gonzales, (R-Texas) said. Before he became a member of Congress, Gonzales was a master chief in the Navy. He recalls that when it was time for him to leave the military, he was “kind of freaking out.”

Pat Murray, a veteran and legislative director for the VFW, says far too often, he hears from veterans just leaving the military that their commanders never gave them enough time or leeway to participate in post-service training.

“It seems an awful lot like commanders are prioritizing readiness over the troops that are separating from the service,” Murray said, adding that they can and must do better.

The preparation for life after service, he says, gives veterans tools and skills to compete — and it goes a long way toward preventing veteran suicides as well.

“We’ve really in the past couple of years trying to emphasize getting people secured with their care and benefits lined up before they even take off the uniform,” Murray said.

If you or someone you know needs help, resources or someone to talk to, you can find it at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or by calling 1-800-273-8255. People are available to talk to 24/7.

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