Post-9/11 military veterans in Orange County face far more obstacles finding jobs and accessing medical and mental health services than veterans from prior wars, according to a USC survey.
The USC School of Social Work Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families examined 1,227 veterans and found that 61 percent who took part in post-9/11 combat say they have had trouble reintegrating back into civilian life, compared to 30 percent of veterans who served prior to 9/11.
The survey, whose results were released Thursday morning at a Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa event attended by Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, also found:
* 44 percent of post-9/11 veterans were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, compared with 24 percent diagnosed with the disorder from prior military conflicts.
* 74 percent of post-9/11 veterans said they had no employment lined up upon leaving the service, and 71 percent said they received no help finding a job.
* Nearly 30 percent of post-9/11 veterans are unemployed, and 40 percent feel potential employers regard them as “broken” and prone to violence.
* 20 percent of post-9/11 veterans has thought about suicide.
* 35 percent of post-9/11 veterans had no place to live when they returned to Orange County,
* 20 percent experienced homelessness in the month before they were questioned.
* 45 percent said they don't know where to go for help.
“There were some gripping statistics from the study that echoes what we've seen in our work over the past couple of years,” said Shelly Hoss, president of the veterans assistance nonprofit Orange County Community Foundation, upon the survey's release.
“We're very aware, compared to their (pre-9/11) counterparts, these young men and women coming back from service post-9/11 are younger, have seen more deployments and are really struggling with the transition from their military role to their place in the civilian world.”
She says her foundation plans to take the data to community and business leaders to see how they can help with solutions.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.