Veterans health, loneliness needs to be addressed

As a nation, we face many social challenges that negatively impact the health and well-being of people of all ages.

Thousands of veterans are gathering in Orlando August 6-9 for the 2022 Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Convention, making it an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the impact of these social challenges on our veterans. combatants and to commit to being part of the solution.

Unmet social needs can greatly influence the health outcomes of many veterans. Financial constraints can make it difficult for individuals and families to afford healthy food or quality housing. Transportation challenges affect their ability to get to doctor’s appointments, social events, or even the grocery store. And all of these issues can make them feel isolated and alone, which can negatively affect their overall mental health.

Army-related loneliness is often different from typical loneliness — veterans may feel misunderstood and find it difficult to connect to the civilian world.

These are challenges that we must face together, as private companies, organizations and individuals. DAV and Humana work together to help veterans access benefits and services such as medical care, disability compensation, employment, and transportation.

Through our collaborative efforts, we often find that many veterans do not realize that support is available to them. Educating our communities and local veterans about available resources is an important step in addressing these challenges and helping veterans in our community stay connected and engaged.

Here are some of the resources available to veterans:

Local Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs). Help veterans connect with others in their community who have had similar experiences and are more likely to relate to them. DAV, for example, has local service officers to help veterans file VA disability claims and apply for other benefits.

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DAV Awareness Programs that pprovide services and support that veterans need.

DAV Job Resources: DAV Sponsors job fairsincluding virtual events, to connect veterans with employers nationwide who are committed to hiring them.

The Give an Hour program helps connect veterans with local mental health care providers who volunteer their time talk with veterans.

Veterans Crisis Line: This connects veterans with qualified Veterans Affairs responders, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Veterans can dial 988, then press 1 or go to www.veteranscrisisline.net.

For more information on veterans service organizations, visit www.va.gov/vso.

Together, through public and private partnerships and the support of all members of the community, we can make a difference in the lives of those who have given so much selflessly for us.

Dee Hughes, who lives and works in Florida, is an Army wife, Gold Star mother, and the Southeast Regional Veterans Executive for Humana.

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