Is the lack of a peer group social network a cause of struggling vets?

I don’t usually go to Business Insider for deep thoughts. But I think this author might just be on to something.

And then you exit the service.

No more intrusive surprise health and welfare inspections. No more grueling runs and setting your speed to the slowest member of your group. No more morning formations. No more of the countless bureaucratic irritations of military life. Paradise, right?

Actually, for many of us, no.

Gone, suddenly, is the cohesive structure that existed to take care of you. Gone is that strong sense of social security. Gone is the sense that, wherever you go, you know where you fit. Gone are the familiar cultural norms. Gone are your friends from your ready-made peer group, who are just as invested in your success as you are in theirs.

Much of the time the service spends its time intruding upon your life outside the normal duty hours. It’s almost always incredibly annoying. And the enforced close conditions with others can be wearing. But on the other hand, if you stick a group of 18-20 year old men together 24 hours a day, bonds of friendship, or at least shared purpose, are bound to develop.

But I suspect that the main contributor to troubled adjustment to civilian life is something else entirely, and rarely is it because of battle trauma. Rather, when Veterans leave military service, many of them, like me, are leaving the most cohesive and helpful social network they’ve ever experienced. And that hurts. Most recent Veterans aren’t suffering because they remember what was bad. They’re suffering because they miss what was good.

Of course, many Veterans just power through and do fine. Veterans on average have better health and earn more money than the average American. But others fall short of their potential, simply because they’re missing something, and they can’t tell what it is.

I remember that same sense of loss when I got out to go to college. I struggled to make friends with dorm residents and classmates. The shift from working toward a unit mission to a pursuit purely of the self was disorienting.

It’s a cliché that people will say the strongest friendships they’ve ever formed were those in the service. But there’s a reason that cliché has evolved.

What say you?

No, the VA is not disarming Veterans for having PTSD

Folks have been flooding my inbox with links to this post from Red Flag News about how Obama’s VA is disarming veterans. I was highly skeptical, and reached out to Jonn at This Ain’t Hell to see if he’d heard anything.

As I suspected, it’s a small, self promoting site trying to gin up traffic (and presumably, donations).

Sometimes, Veterans are declared incompetent, and receive such a letter. But that’s usually a very extreme case.  Examples might be a veteran in a persistent vegetative state, or similar levels of Traumatic Brain Injury, or one who has a long history of homelessness. Your average veteran, even with severe PTSD, won’t be susceptible to being declared incompetent.

Jonn and TSO provide some clarity.

If a guy is to the point where he’s having problems with his finances, the VA (usually under a request from the family) will put a vet in for Guardianship. Again, this is *usually* but not always a request from the family. It wouldn’t be everyone with PTSD, not everyone even at 100%. But what it does is allows VA to pay the family, who in turn has to pay the guys/gals bills. Different things kick in then to ensure the money is appropriately spent. That also is fraught with trouble.

Now, at that time the vet can ask for a hearing, provide evidence, and do all the other happy Due Process stuff.

The change here is that this didn’t automatically send the names to NICS. And in my opinion is probably unconstitutional. The NICS statutes say that the person has to be a threat to himself or others. But the Guardianship thing in VA regs doesn’t say that, only that they are incompetent with regards to handling their money. For years we’ve kept the VA from reporting those names because of the differences. Seemingly they have changed that now. There is a bill to correct that.

The government can declare you incompetent. But they can’t do it without due process.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t keep an eye on the VA or other attempts by the administration to curtail our constitutional rights.

But if you are a veteran, do NOT let this scaremongering keep you from applying for and using the services via the Veterans Administration that you’ve earned.  If you need help with PTSD, or any other assistance the VA provides, by all means, go get it.