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Exploring the Economic & Employment Challenges Facing U.S. Veterans

July 10, 2015 Comments off

Exploring the Economic & Employment Challenges Facing U.S. Veterans
Source: Volunteers of America

One of the biggest challenges that Volunteers of America’s programs grapple with every day is helping homeless and vulnerable veterans find and keep good jobs. In an effort to more effectively address this challenge, and continually improve our programs and services, we sponsored this original study exploring the economic and employment challenges facing America’s most vulnerable veterans.

Working with our partners University of Southern California’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, we have identified several important themes in this research that will guide our programs for vulnerable veterans in the future:

  • The need for “civilian basic training” that helps veterans transition to post-military life and workplaces
  • Benefits of veteran peer programs
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remains a leading predictor of veteran unemployment.
  • Employment programs should help all veterans, including those with other than honorable discharges and involvement in the justice system

CRS — Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (April 30, 2015)

July 8, 2015 Comments off

Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), operates the nation’s largest integrated health care delivery system, provides care to approximately 5.75 million unique veteran patients, and employs more than 270,000 full-time equivalent employees.

CRS — Veterans’ Benefits: The Impact of Military Discharges on Basic Eligibility (3/6/15)

May 20, 2015 Comments off

Veterans’ Benefits: The Impact of Military Discharges on Basic Eligibility (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Cornell University ILR School)

This report discusses the discharge or separation requirement for veteran status or, more specifically, how the VA assesses character of service to determine whether a former service member’s separation from the military can be considered other than dishonorable. In some instances, the military characterization of discharge is relatively uncomplicated, creating a binding entitlement to VA benefits (i.e., an honorable or general discharge [under honorable conditions]), assuming the individual meets other eligibility requirements for veteran status. However, if the characterization of discharge may preclude access to veteran’s benefits, the VA must develop the case, through an assessment of service records and other evidence related to a claimant’s time in the military. This report includes a hypothetical example (in Appendix C) illustrating the complexities associated with making character of service determinations by the VA.

Roundup of Recent CRS Reports About Military/Defense

May 18, 2015 Comments off

Perspectives on Sexual Health and Function of Recent Male Combat Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan

May 15, 2015 Comments off

Perspectives on Sexual Health and Function of Recent Male Combat Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan
Source: Sexual Medicine

Background
U.S. veterans of recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be at greater risk for sexual dysfunction due to injuries, mental health conditions, medications used to treat those conditions, and psychosocial factors.

Objective
To explore the perceptions of recent Veterans about sexual health and dysfunction, contributing factors, its impact and solutions.

Design
Qualitative study.

Participants
Eight men who screened positive for sexual dysfunction at initial presentation to a postdeployment clinic at a Veterans Affairs medical center.

Approach
Patients who screened positive for sexual dysfunction and indicated an interest in participating were contacted and scheduled for an in-person private interview with a researcher. Interviews were semistructured, utilizing open-ended and follow-up probe questions to elicit the individual’s perspective about sexual dysfunction and its cause, impact and solutions. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed for themes.

Key Results
These heterosexual men discussed a range of sexual dysfunction in their activities including lack of desire, erectile dysfunction, delayed orgasm, premature ejaculation, and distraction. They also discussed the importance of setting or context and changes over time to their sexual health and function. The men shared their ideas about contributory factors, including normal aging, medication side effects, injury and a possible role for combat deployment more generally. Reported solutions for sexual dysfunction included medications, herbal remedies, and new positions and approaches to sexual activity. Participants reported discussing sexual dysfunction with their health-care providers and what was helpful. Finally, the men expressed in their own words the significant impact of sexual dysfunction on their self-perception, their partners, and their relationships.

Conclusions
Sexual dysfunction in recent combat veterans can have important negative effects on their health and relationships. Our findings elucidate perceived contributory factors and preferred solutions, which can be applied by health-care providers to improve the management of sexual dysfunction in these patients.

Examining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Plight of Vietnam Veterans

May 15, 2015 Comments off

Examining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Plight of Vietnam Veterans (PDF)
Source: Iowa Historical Review

Human beings have been afflicted by the lasting mental effects of warfare for thousands of years. Over twenty – four hundred years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of a soldier at the battle of Marathon who, after witnessing the death of the soldier next to him, went completely blind, despite being “wounded in no part of his body.” William Shakespeare, too, saw the effects of war on the minds of its survivors. After her husband’s return from war in King Henry IV, Lady Percy wonders of him, “What is’t that takes from thee thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?” Both of these writings reference a mental disorder seemingly caused by the intense traumas of war. This disorder has gone by many different names, including shell shock, the thousand – yard stare, and war neurosis. Today, we classify this disorder as post – traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Assessment of the Healthcare Needs and Barriers to VA Use Experienced by Women Veterans: Findings From the National Survey of Women Veterans

May 8, 2015 Comments off

Assessment of the Healthcare Needs and Barriers to VA Use Experienced by Women Veterans: Findings From the National Survey of Women Veterans
Source: Medical Care

Background:
Prior regional studies of women Veterans identified barriers to Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare use. However, these studies do not reflect the demographic profile of women Veterans nationally, recent advances in VA women’s healthcare, and the national context of expanded healthcare alternatives.

Objective:
To characterize health, VA perceptions, barriers, healthcare delivery preferences, and reasons for VA or non-VA healthcare use in a national women Veteran sample.

Methods:
Cross-sectional, population-based 2008–2009 National Survey of Women Veterans (n=3611).

Results:
VA users had worse physical and mental health than non–VA-only users and healthcare nonusers. Older women Veterans had worse physical health, whereas younger groups had worse mental health. Healthcare use was highest for dual users, followed by VA-only users, but did not differ by age group. Healthcare nonusers were most likely to lack a regular source for healthcare. Perceptions of VA care quality and sex-appropriateness were highest for VA-only, followed by dual, then non–VA-only users. VA perceptions were guided by personal experience for 90% of VA users, versus media or other secondhand sources for 70% of other groups. Non–VA-only users and healthcare nonusers had more knowledge gaps about VA and misperceptions about VA eligibility and services; non–VA-only users more likely encountered VA enrollment barriers.

Conclusions:
Many nonusers had healthcare needs that were not met. Positive VA perceptions by women with first-hand VA experience, contrasted with VA knowledge gaps by those without such exposure, suggests the need for more education about available VA healthcare services. VA planning should account for mental health needs and healthcare use by younger women Veterans.

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