We're a hawk on the issues.

The Trenches At Home: Veterans Highlight Issues Most Important to Them

Every year the veterans service organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America – of which I am a member and a former member spokesperson – conducts a survey of its members. The most recent IAVA Member Survey was published last week and is, according to the report, “the largest non-governmental survey of confirmed Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans.” The survey reveals the issues that most concern Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as well as provides more data about the group’s experiences with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the other challenges plaguing the community of veterans.

The key findings in the IAVA survey show that their membership ranked the top three concerns facing veterans of their generation. Suicide and treatment of mental injury ranked at the top, especially considering the former is seen as being directly related to inadequate treatment of the latter. Second on the list are employment opportunities for veterans, despite recent attention towards addressing that problem on both local and national scales.

The backlog at the VA is the third concern, and also loosely tied to the first. However despite being ranked third by the IAVA membership, this is the story that has gotten the most attention from the news media because of the political ramifications of the “scandal” in the VA.

The report also highlights the concern from some of the member veterans that as America ends the war in Afghanistan – despite it being extended two more years until 2016 – they worry that it will reduce the public concern for veterans’ issues.

Over the next week, we are going to examine the issues facing veterans in America today. We are going to look at the VA scandal and what we can expect from Robert McDonald, President Obama’s nominee to replace Eric Shinseki as VA secretary. We are also going to look beyond that scandal into other issues affecting the veterans’ community.


Photo by Vera Yu and David Li via Flicker.

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.