Analysis: Many vets unaware of their benefits
WASHINGTON — More than half of America's veterans say they have little or no understanding of the benefits due them, despite efforts over the years to match returning soldiers with the help and services they need.
An analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs survey data found that younger veterans — those who served in the post-9/11 war period — are better versed in their benefits. But even among those veterans, 40 percent say they have little or no understanding of their benefits, a figure that climbs to two-thirds for those unfamiliar with life insurance benefits available.
The VA said it's working hard to boost benefits awareness and has taken steps in recent years to do so.
One major change will occur on Wednesday when a new law will mandate all departing service members go through a series of detailed benefits sessions. Until now, participation in such sessions varied by service and was often optional.
The VA had been reaching 150,000 service members per year; under the mandatory, beefed-up, sessions, that is expected to rise to 307,000.
McClatchy Newspapers analyzed the VA's 2010 National Survey of Veterans, conducted about every 10 years to determine the state of America's veterans. McClatchy also reviewed benefits data by state in 2011, the most recent year available.
Among all veterans, 59 percent said their understanding of available benefits was “a little” or “not at all,” according to the analysis.
But there were some wide swings:
•Among older veterans, including those from Vietnam, Korea and World War II, 55 percent or more have little or no understanding of their benefits; among veterans from the period between Korea and Vietnam, lack of understanding shot to 65 percent.-Among younger veterans, 40 percent had little or no understanding.
•Asked specifically about life insurance benefits, 80 percent said they have little or no understanding of them, including 62 percent who said they have no understanding at all.
• Asked about education benefits, younger veterans — who would be most likely to use them — have far greater understanding of what's available than their older brethren. Even so, 41 percent said they have little or no understanding of those benefits, which include several different and sometimes overlapping programs.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Appeals court tosses gag order in ex-coal company CEO’s case
- Plane skids off runway at LaGuardia; no injuries reported
- Ringling Bros. circus eliminating elephant acts
- Winter storm swirls from Texas to New England
- Feds raid ‘maternity hotels’ in Ca.
- This winter, a fur coat’s not enough
- 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers given wrong tax info
- Natural gas royalties lawsuit hinges on transaction date
- Carnegie Mellon expert to school Congress on security
- Los Angeles rookie officer claims shooting victim grabbed his gun
- Defense strategy for Boston Marathon bombing defendant Tsarnaev is to avoid death penalty