While this question is not hotly debated, post-Gulf War veterans up until the unofficial ending of Operation Just Cause in Panama, are still out there and in the need to acquire benefits they are entitled to. Often soldiers will leave military service, thinking as long as they could make a living for themselves and their families, applying for disability benefits were for the critically wounded. Others also fear that applying for benefits will prevent them from being able to work.
This is false information, as each disability case is different. It was not until reports of veterans not being able to adapt to society, turning to substance abuse, lashing out at family and friends, even attempting suicide, that attention was taken more seriously to terms like ‘Gulf War syndrome’, gastrointestinal disorders, and other illnesses that could not be explained. In this article from the VA, they reference such disorders and chemicals soldiers may have been exposed to.
It is encouraged to get help or to suggest help for loved ones and friends who have completed their military service. There are sources available to veterans for free that are not widely advertised, which is unfortunate. Below is a list of 10 non-profit organizations that can assist veterans who would consider filing a disability claim or need some level of assistance, including suicide hotlines. Click on the links listed:
1. The American Legion National Headquarters*
2. Disabled American Veterans National Headquarters
3. National Veterans Legal Services Program
4. Your local state Veteran’s Assistance office
5. Veteran’s Assistance at your local college campus
6. Veterans of Foreign Wars National Headquarters
7. Vietnam Veterans of America
8. VAClaims.org – a non-profit non-governmental agency
9. New Horizons Un-limited
10. Lifeline for Vets (benefits and suicide prevention hotline)
All organizations are not for profit and are available to assist veterans in need. If you know of more organizations, please provide the link in this forum so that someone in need can have access to the information.
*The American Legion will put you in contact with a chapter within your city are the closest to your residence.