Being involved in most armed conflicts around the world, the United States Government offers extensive army and veteran programs. The main beneficiaries are veterans, injured on the battlefield or not, but also to their families. The United States does have an advanced care system for this particular category but other countries also offer their veterans benefits in multiple areas. But how does the US veteran care system compare to those of other countries and can the US learn from them?
As we can easily observe in this paper, countries like Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Finland and Australia also offer to various degrees benefits to their disabled veterans in areas such as military disability retirement options, housing benefits, burial cost coverage, support coordination and health. Life insurance is only covered by the Canadian Government, as seen in Table 2.1 in the source above.
Veteran Care and Benefits in the US
In most of the cases, veterans in the US are only aware of those basic healthcare benefits offered by the US Government. The main responsible department in their case is the Department of Veteran Affairs. However, in spite of the numerous advantages offered by this program, many others are already implemented to help veterans and their families. Little does this special category know that they are entitled to numerous other benefits than basic healthcare. Numerous programs and initiatives are due to take some of the burdens that veteran’s families experience.
- Long-term healthcare initiatives. The Aid and Attendance Program enables veterans the necessary means to care for their ageing relatives. The eligibility criteria are easy to meet. The veteran should have served at least a day in armed conflicts and the relatives they want to care for through this program must be homebound. The amount to which veterans are entitled to passes $25,000. Surviving life partners of veterans are eligible to receive above $13,000 themselves as well.
- Certification programs. The GI Bill offers all veterans $2,000 that can be used for training and certifications or other vocational classes. The amount is also available for veterans that want to change the activity field and specialization without getting a college degree.
- The Forever GI Bill. The program allows military veterans to pursue different career paths that require higher education degrees by aiding their college studies.
- Transferring GI Bill credits. The credits described above can be transferred to veteran’s spouses and children (or other dependents).
- Free tax preparation benefits. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program is offering free tax preparation assistance in military bases.
- Mortgage help. Repayment assistance is available to all veterans that struggle with paying their monthly mortgage fees.
- Life Insurance. Many programs offer veterans life insurance policies that cover up to $400,000.
- Caregiver support. While this particular program is not offering any sort of financial benefits, veterans’ caregivers benefit from free support and guidance in the process.
- Death benefits. The Department of Veteran Affairs offers families free headstone and grave markers when veterans die. Also, other honours can be requested in the event of a veteran’s death.
These are only some of the advantages and monetary benefits offered by the US Government to veterans and their families in the US. However, things are not so bright in other countries in the world when it comes to this social category.
Veteran Care and Benefits in Ireland
In the fall of 2018, the Irish Defence Forces veterans and their families marched in Dublin over improper work conditions and low pay. The national crisis in veterans’ case is severe across Ireland. Many veterans and their families are threatened with homelessness and struggling to provide food for their families. For instance, in Ireland’s case, a 24-hour workday in the military forces is only paid with 20 euros. Most families struggle with simple needs, like food. In most military families, soldiers must work two or three jobs simply to survive, as the former member of the Defence Forces, Senator Gerard Craughwell said to an Irish Examiner reporter.
The only reliable way to ease their living conditions is through charity programs and services like no win no fee solicitors when struggling with personal injury claims. Just before Christmas, the Wives and Partners of the Defence Forces set up a GoFundMe campaign with the main goal of helping those veteran and military families that struggle with the simple act of properly feeding their families around the winter holidays, not to mention purchasing presents for their families.
Benefits like mortgage assistance are virtually inexistent in Ireland, many families losing their homes after being repossessed. Housing options in these cases are not available and the Government chooses to keep their eyes shut. Whole families are sofa-surfing to live in proper conditions and not face homelessness in all its aspects.
While the common belief that veterans in the US are overlooked, a simple comparison with other countries in the world is relevant enough to prove the contrary.
Veteran Care and Benefits in Canada
Canada’s veteran assistance programs compare favourably to other programs in the world. Veteran re-establishment is fully supported and encouraged by the Government. Although the budget allocated by the Government to veteran affairs is significantly smaller than in US’s case, there should be noted the fact that the number of veterans in Canada is only a fraction from the US veteran population. Between 2009-2010, the Canadian Government allocated only $3.4 billion to veteran affairs, while the US government’s budget allocated for similar matters reached $100 billion. There are a number of programs implemented in Canada to help veterans transition easier to a normal life after combat.
- New Veterans Charter;
- Health benefits;
- Job placement programs;
- Rehabilitation programs;
- Disability Awards.
Not all veteran wellness and benefits programs are equal. While certain countries like the US and Canada offer incredible advantages, the Irish Armed Forces struggle to make ends meet and face homelessness.