One criticism often leveled at the government and lawmakers is a failure to address the most pressing issues of veteran quality of life.
Veterans are safeguarded by a huge amount of legal precedent, in what is often a bipartisan effort to recognize service and sacrifice. Despite this, veterans often do not experience their best possible quality of life. Issues of housing, mental health, underemployment and stigma are regularly experienced by veterans, which is why, according to Duke University School of Medicine, the suicide rate among veterans is up to 52.3% higher than other civilians. In order for real change to happen, there must be law underpinning any efforts to improve the rights of veterans – and questions asked of whether that law is in place.
Addressing pressing issues
One criticism often leveled at the government and lawmakers is a failure to address the most pressing issues of veteran quality of life. One, in particular, is the matter of burn pits, where millions of veterans have been impacted with life-changing conditions owing to inhaling toxic vapors in Kosovo and Iraq. As the Veterans Committee of The House reported, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act or Honoring our PACT Act has opened access to treatment to 3.5 million veterans and, crucially, opened avenues of litigation and appeal for soldiers who feel they should be covered. Making it possible for veterans law experts to litigate on matters concerning veterans will enable them to make findings in defense of their quality of life, and increase their chance of having a better start in civilian life.
Helping mental wellbeing
Veterans, generally speaking, have good access to mental healthcare. However, the current political and social climate, and the impact of their service, can be of serious detriment for that. To tackle that, lawmakers have created a new law that would give complete and free access to national parks – including, crucially, gold star families. Laws that help to open up schemes in a more open and fair way will necessarily create a gray area when it comes to businesses within NPS areas. Nevertheless, having more law in place to help provide recreation and places of peace will improve veteran mental health.
Tackling financial questions
Despite all best laid plans, it can get confusing, and expensive, when veterans have to approach the insurance industry to make good on their plans and measures. This is an area of active change. According to the VA, January will see the release of a new insurance scheme which will broaden protections. A key change in the new policy is the removal of a clause concerning pre-existing conditions. Veterans will be able to apply regardless of their current health status. This will be an interesting area that is sure to see some litigation, which, in turn, will dovetail with the recent changes to the law.
Always active, the legal scene around veterans is a necessarily sensitive area that needs real effort and thought from all parties. The indications are that the law is changing in such a way that this will happen.