By Peter S. Gaytan
Many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are reluctant to seek help from VA. A study to be released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only 51 percent of new veterans have sought the services of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
CDC researchers found several problems that result in younger vets failing to seek VA help. First, some younger veterans may be unfamiliar with the VA system. Second, some live too far from a center. Third, and most troubling, some doubt the quality of care they would receive. A fourth issue, as expressed by some veterans, is more personal. They don’t want to admit that they need help.
VA officials acknowledge that they need to develop better ways to reach younger vets – and social media is playing a new and larger role. VA has launched individual Facebook pages for each of its 152 medical centers. According to Brandon Friedman, VA’s director of online communications, “With more troops returning home, we also have a responsibility to connect with the thousands of servicemembers who have been — and will be — entering our system. They’re using social media, so that’s where we need to be.”
For more information on the CDC study, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2012/pdf/11_0132.pdf
For more information on the new VA social media launch, go to: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2238
Peter S. Gaytan is the author of For Service To Your Country – Updated Edition: The Essential Guide to Getting the Veterans’ Benefits You’ve Earned (Citadel, 2011), available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. He has served as an advocate in securing and protecting the earned benefits of America’s veterans for more than a decade. Gaytan is the Executive Director of the American Legion, the largest
veterans service organization in America.
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