By Rob Shaul and Charles Bausman
A conversation is growing regarding the rising sense of entitlement from veterans. What do we, as veterans, believe we are owed, and at what point does it become a crutch to self-development?
Do public support and government program benefits create the over-entitled veteran, who believes he or she should be granted far more from the nation?
Benefits for veterans provided by the government are without comparison. Free college education, home loans without down payment, and hiring preference for government and corporate jobs give the vet a leg up in establishing themselves in a successful career and financial security.
Commentary from military themed websites have touched on the subject, insinuating that some veterans of the Global War on Terror (Iraq and Afghanistan specifically) have used the overwhelming support of the public to be a right of their service, not a privilege. This ranges from simple behavior in public to the expectation of discounts at your local Home Depot, but are these signs of something more significant in the mentality of the veteran community?
Has this mentality allowed for the manipulation and even fraudulence in acquiring disability benefits from the Veterans Administration?
As the Wall Street Journal and LA Times have reported, the rise in awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has created an exponential increase in disability claims associated with PTSD, for which the claimant can receive up to $3,000 monthly. As one former VA psychologist interviewed by the LA Times stated, “It’s an open secret that a large chunk of patients is flat-out malingering.” With such a significant financial incentive, are some veterans manipulating the system for money they simply do not rate?
Former military members who we have spoken to have questioned the methods in which VA disability reps inform transitioning service members on how to make claims for benefits by listing injuries. One senior enlisted SOF close to MTI described his exit exam as “gross,” as the VA rep coached him on how to say certain things in certain ways to maximize (or beyond) disability benefits. This is only one anecdotal experience, but is it a sign of further abuse of the system by over-entitled veterans designed to aid those soldiers with legitimate claims?
Our assumption is that this problem is not representative of the large majority of the veteran community. Despite this, the concern is significant as the actions of a few end up representing the group as a whole. By the behavior of a few, does the veteran community at large run the risk of losing the support the nation? For the individual, does the public support and government benefits create a social welfare crutch?
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