Don’t Forget About the Older Veterans!

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Did you know that on average, 22 veterans a day commit suicide? Would you believe me if I said 70 percent of these veterans were over the age of 50? That is a chilling number that leads you to wonder why this trend is occurring, and why you are not hearing much about it.

I am willing to bet that when an average person hears the word “veteran,” the first thing that comes to his or her mind is an image of someone who is 30 or younger. This is not really surprising since that is the veteran at the forefront of media attention. Turn on the TV, and you will see commercials for nonprofits, or cable news specials that highlight the difficulties these young veterans face.

Nothing should be taken away from these men and women who are facing a very difficult time transitioning out of the military. However, we cannot ignore the veterans of past decades who have also served our country. It may seem that they have their life together or have put their problems in the past, but the 70 percent of the 22 suicides per day for veterans 50 or older figure tells a very different story.

PTSD might be a new diagnosis, but it is not a new problem. It is a mental reaction to a traumatic event and always has been; only now, they have a name for it.

While it is true that many older veterans do not need much help, others are not so fortunate, especially later in life. PTSD can linger for years. Many elderly vets still cope with it. Couple that with other common problems or mental conditions that often develop, many elderly veterans are not in a good situation.

Once elderly veterans get to the point that they are not able to care for themselves, they often go into nursing homes, which can be hard on the individual or their family. It is important to remember, however, that the VA does offer a benefit to assist with aging veterans!

The Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension benefit can offer up to $2,019 a month to a veteran, or $1,094 a month to a veteran’s surviving spouse or caregiving adult children to help pay for assisted living costs. The issue is that not many take advantage of this benefit!

Even though many elderly veterans are long since removed from their service, it is so important that we continue to recognize that it was still service nonetheless.

That is why this Valentine’s Day, DVNF hosted a campaign where people could send their message of thanks to a veteran at an assisted living facility. The response has been overwhelming, and we are thrilled that so many have taken the time to send their thoughts out to a deserving veteran this Valentine’s Day.

Don’t forget about these veterans!

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