Starbucks announced in late March that it would hire an additional 15,000 veterans this year. The coffee chain said it has reached its goal of hiring 10,000 veterans and their spouses one year ahead of a self-imposed 2018 deadline. The coffee giant states that its goal is to hire 25,000 U.S. veterans by the year 2025. The company made the announcement not long after receiving harsh criticism for outlining a goal to hire 10,000 refugees over five years.
The company took a huge hit in consumer perception after the company’s former CEO, Howard Schultz, announced plans to start hiring refugees back in January. Some consumers, including veterans, launched a campaign not long after the announcement to boycott Starbucks. Schultz released a statement saying the company would hire both refugees and veterans. Despite backlash across the country, the coffee chain said it will continue with its plan to hire refugees. Schultz stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in April.
The company also has plans to help educate refugees and to develop skills that will help them find jobs. Starbucks formed partnerships with the International Rescue Committee and the UN Refugee Agency to help develop strategic investments in social initiatives. The company continues to face strong criticism for its efforts to help refugees. Critics say the company should spend more time focusing on the needs of unskilled workers in the U.S. as opposed to the job needs of refugees.
The new secretary of the VA, David Shulkin, recently defended a measure in Donald Trump’s federal budget proposal that would cut thousands of dollars in payments to disabled elderly veterans. The issue has to do with the expanded choice program, which allows veterans to choose private health care services over the VA’s network of services. Shulkin wants to offset the program by reducing benefits to elderly veterans, including capping the age restriction on a veteran’s eligibility for the VA’s Individual Unemployability benefit. Some veteran’s advocates fear that capping the age to qualify for the program could send thousands of elderly veterans into poverty.
The Trump administration’s proposed $1.1 trillion federal budget does increase spending on veterans issues by six percent, Shulkin noted. However, the budget proposal cuts many other federal programs that could affect veterans. Some House of Representatives members, including Tim Walz, a Democrat from Minnesota, stated that Trump’s budget proposal could drive many veterans who currently rely on programs provided by the federal government into the current VA health care system, which would drive up costs.
Shulkin praised members of the Senate and the House on moves that gave him more power to fire poorly performing employees. However, Shulkin did not address issues regarding the VA’s antiquated information technology systems. He stated he was looking into other ways to upgrade and would make a formal decision on July 1.
The new secretary of the Veterans Administration shares the same goal as former President Barak Obama, to end homelessness among U.S. veterans. David Shulkin stated he would like to reduce the number of veterans who are homeless from 40,000 to 10,000 or 15,000 during the Trump administration, according to Business Insider. The VA secretary stated that veteran’s homelessness in Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut was virtually over in 40 communities. The outgoing secretary, Robert McDonald, stated those figures should be attainable nationwide by the end of 2017.
Some skeptics believe that the new VA secretary is being “cautiously optimistic,” and he should undertake a more aggressive approach to end veteran homelessness. One Connecticut Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, stated that homelessness among U.S. veterans should be over by the end of Trump’s first term.
Secretary Shulkin stated that some veterans prefer help from private sources instead of the V.A., and a shortage of available houses and high real estate prices are hindering the VA’s efforts to end homelessness. According to the secretary, the biggest challenge the VA faces is in Los Angeles, where skyrocketing home prices are making it next to impossible to find suitable housing for low-income veterans. Business Insider reports that voucher programs for veterans will receive more funding for the fiscal year 2017, which will help agencies such as the United Way of Los Angeles help find transitional housing for veterans facing homelessness.
It has been long understood that soldiers who return from battle often face challenges when they return to civilian life. It is hard to imagine how any human being could overcome so many of the struggles that those who serve have to face. Just considering all of the horrible things that one might have seen while in service is enough to make a lot of people unable to adjust to their new life back home.
This is why some veterans are now turning to social media to try to help each other out with these struggles. They are using something called the “buddy check on 22” on social media to help each other out. What this serves as is a simple reminder to check in on one another regularly. It can be as simple as giving a friend a call to make sure that he is doing okay.
It is set up to remind the veterans to check in on one another on the 22nd of each month the New York Times reports. There are similar programs for combating other things such as diseases like cancer.
Having one specific day set aside each month is a huge help because it means that it sticks out in the mind and helps make it easier to remember. This program may well have helped saved the lives of countless veterans.
PTSD remains a serious problem in the military and social media activism like this is helping the very brave soldiers get the assistance they may require.
A woman in North Carolina recently snapped a photo of several U.S. veterans lying on the floor of a veteran’s hospital in the state. One veteran was slouched in a wheelchair while squirming around in pain and another veteran was on the floor crying out in agony. According to the Huffington Post, one veteran asked for permission to lie down on the floor to help ease his pain, and the staff at the hospital promptly denied his request and told him he can “sit in a chair and wait, like everyone else.” Witnesses indicate the man lied down on the floor anyway until someone offered him a reclining chair.
The man in the wheelchair was identified as Jesse Lee, a Vietnam-era veteran who lost both of his legs to diabetes. Lee stated that it was the worst thing that ever happened in his life, and he also stated that it is not uncommon for veterans to wait for hours before someone at the hospital offers assistance. The photo is now viral, which led to the daughter of Sen. John McCain, Meghan McCain, calling the scene “despicable and shameful.”
A public affairs officer representing the hospital will conduct a full investigation. The officer stated the photos were taken on one of the hospital’s busiest days, and it was not indicative of the level of service veterans receive.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill back in late March that gives veterans with mental illnesses the ability to buy guns, according to the Huffington Post. In 2007, President George W. Bush passed a law after the Virginia Tech mass shooting requiring the Veterans Administration to identify veterans with a “mental defect” and add those names to the National Criminal Background Check System. At the time, the law was meant to block any veteran with a supposed mental defect from buying guns.
The bill passed by the U.S. House prevents the VA from adding the names of veterans with mental problems to the NICS system. According to statistics, there are approximately 174,000 veterans with some form of mental defect. The defects range from post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Democrats strongly oppose the passage of the bill but do admit that some veterans were caught up in the system without an identifying mental defect.
The opposition from Democrats stems in large part to the increasing number of veteran suicides. Reports indicate that 20 veterans in the U.S. take their lives every day, and two-thirds of those veterans use guns to commit suicide. Democratic lawmakers state there is a veteran suicide crisis in America and easy access to guns is the reason. A group of retired generals, including Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, opposed the passage of the bill.
A recent survey showed about 54 percent of American veterans still support Donald Trump. During his campaign, Trump received broad support from many veterans. Trump’s overall numbers show he has a 39 percent approval rating among the broader public, according to the Pew Research Center. Veterans both young and old give Trump high marks for his job as the United States commander in chief. Veterans between the ages of 18 and 49 give Trump a 46 percent approval rating while six-in-ten veterans over the age of 50 give Trump high marks. College-educated veterans also gave the president high marks.
The survey by the Pew Research Center showed that veterans who identify themselves as Republicans gave Donald Trump a 98 percent approval rating while the approval rating was 10 percent from veterans who consider themselves Democrats. Compared to the overall public, most veterans fall in the male, white and older demographic where support for Trump is higher.
Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 92 percent of veterans are male while 8 percent are female. Most veterans in the U.S. are over the age of 65 and approximately 8-in-ten veterans are Caucasian. Trump held a wide advantage in general election back in November of 2016 among veterans. According to a national exit poll, Donald Trump won the popular vote among veterans by a 60 to 34 percent advantage over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
United States military veterans — along with veterans all around the world — are not treated as positively as they should be, in the eyes of most United States citizens. A significant deficiency in taking care of veterans in the USA comes with the ever-failing Veterans Affairs. Recently, the new chief of Veterans Affairs in the Unites States, David Shulkin, has clarified that homelessness programs may not be run through to fruition as quickly as United States citizens would like to.
There have been many meaningless, unfulfilled promises made to veterans in the United States, such as Mr. Shulkin’s assertion that reducing current veteran homelessness down from 40,000 to 10,000 is totally achievable. Chief of the VA Mr. Shulkin believes that this goal would be easier to meet if the frequency of veterans popping in and out of homeless and in between couches, friend’s houses, and other places to live.
Although David Shulkin does feel confident in his assertion that homelessness will decline soon, the status of having top notch healthcare for those veterans is slim to none. Veterans are unlikely to even have any insurance out of what it provided for them when they visit the Veterans Affairs hospital, which is mostly paid by the government.
Homeless replacement programs come in all shapes and sizes, but any attempt at ending homelessness permanently is certainly commendable. Although the status of homelessness in veterans in the United States is far from great at the moment, there are hundreds of programs to help reposition and house homeless veterans
Over the past four months, the presidency of Donald Trump has been discussed heavily in the media. While he has made a lot of big moves already, he has lost support from some people that used to support his presidency. According to a recent survey, one group of people in the United States is continuing to support Trump (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/26/u-s-veterans-are-generally-supportive-of-trump/).
According to the survey, US military veterans have an overall 54% approval rating for Donald Trump. This compares to the overall nation’s approval rating of just 39%. Furthermore, the overall approval rating has remained relatively stable over the past few months while the national approval rating has declined.
The rate of military veterans that support Trump tends to vary a lot based on age and political party. Overall, Republican US Veterans have a 98% approval rating for Trump, which is compared to 86% approval rating of all US Republicans. On the other hand, Veterans who identify themselves as Democrats only have a 10% approval rating while independents have an approval rating of nearly 50%.
Beyond the political affiliation, the age of the veteran seems to impact the approval rating significantly as well. US Veterans that are under the age of 50 have an approval rating of just 38%. This compares to those over the age of 50 that have an approval rating of nearly 60%. Another interesting fact is that those that have a college degree have a much lower level approval compared to those that have not finished their college degree.
The Pentagon has recently stated that it will cease all attempts to recollect the bonuses that it accidentally gave to national guard veterans over the years. This news comes amidst an outpouring of congressional support, in which many U.S. senators felt it was wrong to go after veterans for money that was “incorrectly” sent to them.
For those that haven’t been following this story too closely, the issues began as far back as in 2008, when it was discovered that more soldiers were collecting benefits from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than were supposed to. Unfortunately, many of these soldiers had no idea that they were incorrectly receiving payments, which complicated matters further when they began spending the money on important and expensive items, such as college tuition. When the Pentagon initially began its recollection efforts, that only served to complicate matters further. Soldiers that claimed to qualify for benefits may have had their proof misplaced by the Pentagon, or lost in some other bureaucratic obstacle.
In order to cut down on erroneous collection attempts, and to improve the overall organization of the Pentagon’s bonus payment program, the Secretary of Defense has announced that they are going to transition towards a more centralized process. Through this process, it is hoped that the Pentagon will have a firmer grasp on where money must be directed. It is also hoped that the Pentagon will be able to deliver money in a more transparent way, ensuring that veterans understand when an error has actually occurred.
Although this move seems to have put many veteran’s minds at ease, it is not the only thing that must be done. Many congressman are calling for additional efforts by the Pentagon to absolve the debt of soldiers that have benefited from the bonuses.