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

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.

Reader comments

Fri, Feb 19, 2021

Congratulations! You just insulted millions of veterans who, according to you, aren't "technically" veterans.

Thu, Feb 18, 2021 Tim Moriarty VA

The statement "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, ... . " is untrue. Those mentioned are "retirees" as well as veterans; those who are not "retirees" but served are still "veterans."

Thu, Feb 18, 2021 Dave RRoush Central Texas

I'm a pre-9/11 retiree with less than 50% disability rating. My VA stipend comes out of my retirement paycheck penny for penny and is paid back by the VA penny for penny income tax free.

Thu, Feb 18, 2021

As a military brat, veteran, and spouse to a military retiree, in my opinion, the risks do not equate the rewards. I watch my father and wife suffer from their 20+ years of military service. I watched friends and coworkers die from cancer while the VA deny claims. I watched the "you and your family will have medical and dental for life" turn into $41.00 copays for office visits that costs non-military or those not medically covered far less. Those matter but what matters most are the politicians; I watch politicians use military members as pawns in a sad and dangerous game of either "they are my friends" or "we can cut their budget and nobody will complain." No, until politicians are mandated to serve or have their children serve, it's not worth it.

Thu, Feb 18, 2021

It would be helpful if these numbers were compared to national averages and teased out by age groups. without that, one can't really tell if they are looking at much more than age-expected variation in data.

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