July 11th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
At Good Charity Inc., we understand the importance of the role that veterans and service members play in the protection of our nation. In the past, we have shown our support by donating to the homeless veterans in Philadelphia. We are proud to support new events that allow service members and their families to build camaraderie, re-connect and strengthen ties to our nation’s military.
In honor of this approach, we are delighted to be Brigadier sponsors for the ‘1st Annual All-Army Reunion (AAR) and Birthday Party’ that was held in Philadelphia on June 15, 2013. This event brought together hundreds of veterans, active duty service members and their families in a fun and positive environment. We see this event as a wonderful compliment to our ongoing support of veterans.
The AAR is a celebration of US Army traditions, history and legacy. This family friendly event had something for everyone including:
- Live music, Celebrity Emcees.
- UAV Flying Competitions, Army vs. USAF Hot Dog-Eating Contest, Army vs. Navy Obstacle Course, Sink the Navy Dunking Booth.
- Access to Food and Refreshments, D-Day Veterans as Guests of Honor, Information Tables from Veteran-Related and Community Groups, Children’s Activities, Silent Auctions, Event Merchandise, US Army Historical Presentations, a Legacy Tent along with other event activities.
It is truly wonderful to know that donations provided to Good Charity Inc. enable us to sponsor community-building events for veterans and active duty service members. We pay tribute to all veterans, current service members and their families for all that they have done and continue to do for our nation. We are happy to see that our donation helped contribute to such a wonderful event as the AAR.
Photo Credit: honoringmikey
July 6th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
“Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned. That’s why I’ve pledged to build nothing less than a 21st-century VA”. –President Barack Obama
Today, US military veterans are one of the largest and most important interest groups in the American polity. Nearly one third of the US population is eligible for some form of veteran’s benefits. Despite this, major issues, such as homelessness and negative health outcomes, plague America’s military veteran population. To understand this complex state of affairs, Good Charity, Inc. has prepared an historical overview and analysis of how U.S. Veterans have been serviced by the government and the current issues impacting them.
A brief history of American Veterans
The first law in the colonies on pensions, enacted in 1636 by Plymouth, provided money to those disabled in the colony’s defense against Indians. By 1789, with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the first Congress assumed the burden of paying veterans benefits.
The Civil War, America’s deadliest conflict, brought Veterans issues to the fore. When the War broke out in 1861, the nation had about 80,000 war veterans. By the end of the war in 1865, another 1.9 million veterans had been added to the rolls.
The first important pension law in the 20th century was the Sherwood Act of 1912, which awarded pensions to all veterans. In 1918 The Vocational Rehabilitation Act was passed, mandating any honorably discharged disabled veteran of World War I was eligible for vocational rehabilitation training; a forerunner of the well-known GI Bill.
From the colonial era into the post WW1 era the support system for Veterans had grown significantly and military veterans became firmly entrenched as an important interest group and pillar of society. But that status would be severely shaken during the Great Depression.
The darkest day for the relationship between the U.S. government and the nation’s veterans came in 1932, at the trough of the economic downturn, when as many as 20,000 veterans descended upon the U.S. capital, demanding the payment of bonds they were issued at the end of WW1 that were not scheduled to mature until 1945.
The horde of angry veterans , whom the press labeled the “Bonus Army” served as a visceral reminder of President Herbert Hoover’s failed handling of the nation’s economic collapse. Faced with thousands of veterans camped in a shanty town just a few miles south from the White House lawn, the President made the fateful decision to send General Douglas MacArthur in to forcibly remove the approximately 3,500 veterans, many with their wives and children, who refused to leave.
When the smoke cleared from the fires that were either deliberately set by Federal troops or started accidentally, Hoover’s slim chances for re-election were reduced to ash; his treatment of U.S. veterans and the so-called “Bonus Army” enervated his remaining political base and Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in a landslide.
World War 2 Veterans and the GI Bill
With such a large portion of the adult male population brought into military service during WW2, it was inevitable that Veterans issues would come to the fore of political debate. As the war drew to a close, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the “GI Bill of Rights” into law on June 22, 1944. This bill provided veterans with education grants, federally guaranteed home, farm and business loans, and special unemployment compensation.
The GI Bill was an integral component to post-war economic growth; since the introduction of the GI Bill in 1944 over 21 million veterans and their family members have received GI Bill benefits for education and training.
The GI Bill contributed more than any other program in history to the welfare of veterans and their families, and to the growth of the nation’s economy.
Vietnam Veteran Issues
Due to medical advances and the ability to airlift severely wounded soldiers directly off the battlefield, the Vietnam conflict created an unprecedented amount of long-term disabled veterans. By 1972 there were 308,000 veterans with disabilities connected to military service.
Vietnam veterans also faced a unique dilemma upon the end of their military service- an unfriendly welcome home. Anti-war sentiment, rising drug abuse, and a changing economic landscape presented Vietnam veterans with a difficult landscape on which to build their civilian lives.
The Veterans Administration responded to this crisis in several ways. Most importantly, education programs for Veterans were reestablished and became highly successful. About 76 percent of those eligible participated, compared with 50.5 percent of World War II veterans and 43.4 percent of Korean Conflict veterans. By 1980, the Veterans’ Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966 had trained 5.5 million veterans.
Growth of the Veterans Administration
The aging veteran population of WW1, WW2, and Korea combined with the large cohort of disabled Vietnam conflict veterans caused the number of disability pension cases to jump from 89,526 in 1960 to 691,045 in 1978.
In 1988 the Veterans Administration was elevated to cabinet level status, and was second among government agencies only to the Defense Department in the number of employees,
On July 21, 2005, the Veterans Administration celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a budget of $63.5 billion and serves nearly 25 million veterans.
Most Important Issues Facing American Veterans
Men and women holding “Homeless Veteran” signs are a common sight in many American cities. Unfortunately, the visage of troubled veterans is not a new one; after the Civil War thousands of Union Army veterans with missing limbs could be seen on the streets of New York, Philadelphia, and other Northern cities. Today, many veterans are hard pressed by the economic realities they face upon completion of their military service, along with the lingering effects of Post-traumatic stress syndrome and it’s children –drug and alcohol abuse, so they find themselves homeless.
Only 7% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly 13% of the homeless adult population are veterans. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night; over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Veterans under the age of 50 are twice as likely to be homeless as older veterans.
Good Charity, Inc and the Michigan Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund have partnered with local organizations in Detroit, Michigan to help support homeless veterans in a holistic, full service environment that aims to get them off the streets and back on track as working, healthy citizens.
In 2009, President Barack Obama and VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced the goal of ending Veteran homelessness by 2015, and since that time the Federal government claims the number of Veterans who are homeless has dropped by 17.2 percent.
In 2012, the VA served more than 240,000 Veterans who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless—21 percent more than the year before. In fiscal year 2012, 80,558 calls were made to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (877-4AID-VET)
While substantial progress has been made to decrease homelessness amongst veterans, the impending return of over 1 million veterans from active duty during the next five years means that this issue will not be going away anytime soon and must be met with diligent commitment.
Veterans with Disabilities
As of 2013, roughly 3.5 million veterans have at least a partial disability related to their military service, over 800,000 of whom are considered completely disabled.
Good Charity Inc. supports disabled veterans through the Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund and our Financial Assistance Program.
This video tells the story of how a ww2 Veteran in Michigan received financial help to construct the wheelchair ramp he needed.
The range of disabilities that veterans are afflicted with is as varied as their theaters of combat and modes of service. In late 2012 the US Army alone reported that 73,674 soldiers have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, and another 30,480 with traumatic brain injury, often caused by one or more severe blows to the head or exposure to a concussive blast; over 1,600 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have lost a limb.
Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen; a staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans recently returning from the Middle East have filed disability claims with the Federal government.
Often, the health impacts of wartime service are not as clear cut as a battlefield wound. In the aftermath of the Vietnam conflict a long battle between veterans and the VA began over the impacts of the defoliant Agent Orange which was used extensively during not only in Vietnam but in the Korean DMZ during the late 1960’s.
In 1991, the US Congress enacted the Agent Orange Act, giving the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to declare certain conditions ‘presumptive’ to exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin, making these veterans who served in Vietnam eligible to receive treatment and compensation for these conditions.
Congress authorized payouts to veterans with certain conditions presumed to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange, including prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, peripheral neuropathy, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and spina bifida in children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange, hairy cell leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease, these last three having been added on August 31, 2010.
Gulf War Syndrome
Approximately 250,000 of the 697,000 veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War are afflicted with enduring chronic multi-symptom illness, a condition with serious consequences. A wide range of acute and chronic symptoms have been linked to it, including fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive problems, rashes and diarrhea. From 1995 to 2005, the health of combat veterans worsened in comparison with nondeployed veterans, with the onset of more new chronic diseases, functional impairment, repeated clinic visits and hospitalizations, chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness, posttraumatic stress disorder, and greater persistence of adverse health incidents. According to a report by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, it showed that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may also suffer from the syndrome.
Suggested causes have included depleted uranium, sarin gas, smoke from burning oil wells, vaccinations, combat stress and psychological factors, though only pyridostigmine (an antitoxin for nerve agents) and organophosphate pesticides have been conclusively linked
“It is clear that a significant portion of the soldiers deployed to the Gulf War have experienced troubling constellations of symptoms that are difficult to categorize,” said committee chair Stephen L. Hauser, professor and chair, department of neurology, University of California, San Francisco. “Unfortunately, symptoms that cannot be easily quantified are sometimes incorrectly dismissed as insignificant and receive inadequate attention and funding by the medical and scientific establishment. Veterans who continue to suffer from these symptoms deserve the very best that modern science and medicine can offer to speed the development of effective treatments, cures, and — we hope — prevention.”
Mental Illness Among veterans
Mental illness among military personnel is also a major concern. In another study of returning soldiers, clinicians identified 20 percent of active and 42 percent of reserve component soldiers as requiring mental health treatment. Drug or alcohol use frequently accompanies mental health problems and was involved in 30 percent of the Army’s suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009 and in more than 45 percent of non-fatal suicide attempts from 2005 to 2009.
Veterans- drug and alcohol abuse
Prescription drug abuse doubled among U.S. military personnel from 2002 to 2005 and almost tripled between 2005 and 2008., but a Alcohol abuse is the most prevalent problem and one which poses a significant health risk. A study of Army soldiers screened 3 to 4 months after returning from deployment to Iraq showed that 27 percent met criteria for alcohol abuse and were at increased risk for related harmful behaviors (e.g., drinking and driving, using illicit drugs).
PTSD among Veterans
1 in 5 Iraq conflict veterans has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and PTSD sufferers account for 20% of all suicides among military veterans.
PTSD may have be impacting veterans physical health as well as their mental health. Male twin Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were more than twice as likely as those without PTSD to develop heart disease during a 13-year period, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Traditionally, veterans have often suffered higher than average unemployment rates, but aggressive measures in the last several years have brought veterans’ unemployment rates in line with the national average. This is less true for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 who, during 2012, posted an unemployment rate of 20.4 percent, according to federal figures. The number of veterans in this age range are about to swell exponentially, particularly as American troops exit Afghanistan by 2014.
“The fact is there are another million service members and their families who are getting ready to leave the armed forces over the next five years,” said. “Many of them are going to be 24 and under, and many of them will have military spouses who also face high rates of unemployment.” -Kevin Schmiegel , executive director of “Hiring Our Heros”
What we can do for Veterans
Military conflict is an unfortunate reality of the world we live in. American Veterans have risked their very lives to protect America’s place in the world and the lifestyle we enjoy. Good Charity Inc created this analysis of Veteran history and the issues facing them to provide a game plan for helping veterans and their families overcome any and all obstacles on their path to life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness.
June 3rd, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
Good Charity Inc and the Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund support America’s veterans through our Financial Assistance Program. Joseph is a WW2 veteran living in Michigan. Recently, he developed an infection in his leg and had to have his lower right leg removed at the VA hospital. Doctors insisted that a ramp be installed at Joseph’s home before he was released from the hospital, so that he could have smooth access to the front door while in his wheelchair. Joseph was unable to cover the cost of the ramp, so Good Charity Inc’s Financial Assistance program was able to step in and cover the shortfall with funding raised for the Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund
Good Charity, Inc
April 5th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
Easter for many Americans is a time of family, spirituality and happiness. For the Christian community, Easter represents God’s promise being fulfilled through Jesus Christ’s resurrection. To many, this is a promise of forgiveness, empathy towards thy brother and a promise of salvation.
On a more secular level, as Americans, we should all make a promise to our veterans who fight to defend our nation that we will not forget their sacrifices and that we will be there to support them upon their return from duty. Remembering and honoring these men and women especially in their time of need is something we feel strongly about at Good Charity. This Easter, regardless of your faith, we can all agree that helping the poor and the homeless is an important effort in strengthening the communities in which we live.
Good Charity, Inc. through our Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund was asked to sponsor an Easter dinner for homeless veterans at the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House. We were honored to be able to help. We salute the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House for their efforts working with homeless vets and wish all of the veterans the very best. Happy Holidays to all and a special thank you to all of our supporters!
March 5th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
The men and women that serve(d) in the U.S. armed forces make our way of life possible; without their dedication and sacrifice America would not be the beacon of opportunity and freedom that attracts immigrants from across the globe. So why are our veterans 50% more likely to experience homelessness than the average citizen?
The unique challenges facing returning military personnel include increased rates of mental illness and substance abuse; veterans with these issues frequently become chronically homeless. But in East Saint Louis, the Joseph Center (part of “The Eagle’s Nest” non-profit) is working to empower homeless military Veterans to achieve self-sufficiency and rejoin the community as productive members of society.
The Joseph Center is a full-service living center providing supportive housing to up to 26 homeless veterans; the only organization of its kind in the entire East St. Louis metropolitan area, they provide 24 months of housing and a dedicated case manager to each veteran.
Good Charity, Inc’s affiliate Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund supports pro-active organizations that seek to not only ameliorate current problems, but to create permanent solutions. The Joseph Center does just that, starting with the intake process. Entering veterans must be referred directly from a substance abuse treatment program or have 30 days of documented sobriety. Computer and resume preparation training is given, dental and other health issues treated, and life skills seminars are offered.
Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund is proud to provide financial support to the Joseph Center in E. Saint Louis to support the re-entry of our country’s homeless veterans into mainstream society.
January 17th, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
Homeless Veterans need help
Nothing hurts worse than seeing everyone turn their back on you in your time of need. Unfortunately, this is just the predicament some of America’s veterans find themselves in; the society they risked their lives to protect sometimes forgets about them.
Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans fund director Brian Maiorana found out about a wonderful organization in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and pushed to have the Fund help them in their mission to serve the veterans who protected and served our great nation so valiantly.
Services for Homeless Veterans
The organization is called “Center for Veterans Issues” and they have just built the Thomas Wynn Veterans Manor from the ground up. The Manor is not the typical “homeless shelter” style of housing that only offers temporary respite from the plight of homeless veterans: it offers permanent housing for 52 veterans, broadband internet for every resident, as well as laundry facilities and an exercise room. Each resident has their own one bedroom apartment. Most importantly, the Veterans Manor has created a web of support services to help the residents reclaim their independence. One of the key support services is job skills training; other important support offered by the Manor includes substance abuse services and help accessing veteran’s benefits.
Below is an excerpt from a letter we received courtesy of the Center for Veterans Issues’ President:
“Thank you for your generous gift…The funds will be used to offset the construction costs of Veterans Manor as well as the wrap around services that address the needs of the Veterans Manor residents”
The Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund is honored to support Center for Veterans Issues in Milwaukee as they continue to serve veterans through the Thomas Wynn Veterans Manor.