Survey examines difference in military benefits of retirees vs. non-retirees

While veterans are technically considered those who served honorably in the active duty military for at least 20 years, are receiving military-retiree pay or have been medically retired, there are also those who left service before retirement and do not receive the same level of benefits as those who did.

Compared with veterans who have successfully retired from military service, post-9/11 veterans who did not retire fully from service face more challenges with access to health care experience more financial and social hardships, a new survey finds.

While veterans are technically considered those who served honorably in the active duty military for at least 20 years, are receiving military-retiree pay or have been medically retired, there are also those who left service before retirement and do not receive the same level of benefits as those who did.

“Whether it was in quality of health care or mental health care, employment experiences, food insecurity incidences, or community and feelings of loneliness, veterans and their spouses reported more negative experiences than retiree respondents,” according to results from a survey released this week by Military Family Advisory Network and the Wounded Warrior Project.

The survey polled 1,276 post-9/11 veterans and their caregivers about their most pressing needs in regards to mental and physical health and finances, and among its results from respondents:

* 22% of retired vets were satisfied with their health care access, compared to 11% of non-retirees;

* 43% of retirees reported having $5,000 or more in emergency funds on hand compared to 18% for non-retirees;

* 29% of post-9/11 non-retirees said they have concerns about alcohol use, compared to 15% of retirees;

* Nearly 30% of non-retirees lived at least 20 miles (the longest distance surveyed) from their primary care doctor, compared with 17% of retirees; and

* the majority of all post-9/11 respondents (veterans, retirees, and their caregivers) indicated they were satisfied with the mental health care they’ve received, access to appointments, and the quality of providers; and 24.1% said access to appointments or providers was their top obstacle for mental health care.

And for the first time, researchers also looked into exposure to Intimate Partner Violence, and found that approximately 6.8% (or 1 in 15) of both retirees and non-retirees sought domestic abuse support in the last two years. Of those who said they had sought support, 53.1% were spouses of non-retirees, 25% were spouses of retirees, 15.6% were non-retirees, and 6.3% were retirees.

“When isolating the veteran spouse respondent group, that data showed 20.7% reported seeking support; this rate was very clearly statistically significant when compared to the other post-9/11 respondent groups, as the other rates were 5% or less,” the findings state.

One of the final questions in the survey was, “Would you recommend military life to someone you care about?”

Most (71.5%) of post 9/11 respondents said they would recommend military life, but those who did not recommend military life cited three main reasons; negative impacts to service member, benefits not worth it, and the negative impacts to family.

To address issues revealed from the survey, WWP and MFAN recommended increased community involvement in welcoming post-9/11 veteran and retiree families; developing outlets for post-9/11 veteran and retiree family populations to connect with each other; and improved communication regarding the health risks associated with loneliness both to veteran and retiree families, as well as to the communities in which they live.

View the full survey results here.

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