In its efforts to identify the challenges facing the nation’s veterans and their families, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) conducts an annual survey examining the physical, emotional, mental, economic, and social needs of post-9/11 service members. It is the largest survey of its kind.
The WWP Annual Warrior Survey helps the organization allocate resources toward programs and initiatives with the highest potential impact. The survey also provides important data that policymakers and government agencies can use to improve the quality of veterans’ programs and services.
WWP recently released the results of its 10th Annual Warrior Survey. It collected information on numerous topics concerning veterans, including demographic shifts, deployment trends, employment and financial stability, and homelessness.
Survey data also provided health information related to service-connected physical injuries, PTSD and traumatic brain injury, physical health and obesity, and substance abuse. Keep reading for a closer look at the findings from WWP’s 2019 Warrior Survey.
For its 10th Annual Warrior Survey, WWP reached out to just under 110,000 members and received 35,908 completed surveys. Of those who responded, 83 percent are male with an average age of 42. The majority of respondents (65.9 percent) were married at the time of the survey. Just over 37 percent of respondents possessed a bachelor’s degree or higher.
In terms of race and ethnicity, the top three represented among respondents are Caucasian (66.1 percent), Hispanic (19.6 percent), and Black or African American (16 percent). The remaining respondents comprise American Indian or Alaskan Native (5.3 percent), those who identified as other race/ethnicity (3.8 percent), Asian (3.7 percent), and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (1.6 percent).
Respondents hailed from several areas of the country, but most (54 percent) were living in the South at the time of the survey. Nearly one-quarter (23.8 percent) live in the West while 12.6 percent live in the Midwest and 9.6 percent live in the Northeast.
Service-Connected Injuries and Health Issues
As mentioned, the main goal of the Annual Warrior Survey is to identify challenges facing the nation’s veterans in order to help WWP and other organizations tailor their assistance programs and services accordingly. The top challenges typically include service-related physical injuries and associated mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Among the respondents to the 10th Annual Warrior Survey, 91 percent experienced three or more injuries as a result of their military service. At the top of the list of most commonly reported issues in the survey were sleep problems, PTSD, and anxiety. These issues were reported by 87.5 percent, 82.8 percent, and 80.7 percent of respondents, respectively. Back, neck, or shoulder problems and depression were also among the most common self-reported health issues.
A new health question in the 2019 Warrior Survey asked respondents about their exposure to toxic materials such as chemical agents and burn pit fumes. Over two-thirds (70.4 percent) of respondents reported that they had definitely been exposed to such environmental hazards during their service. However, less than 10 percent reported receiving treatment for their exposure.
Social Support, Health Care Coverage, and Access to Care
Fortunately, the level of social support among veterans who responded to the survey appears to be quite high. Nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed that there are people they could turn to for help if they needed it. Over 72 percent agreed that there are people around them who enjoy the same social activities they do.
In addition to benefitting from social support, most (71 percent) respondents reported that they receive at least some health care coverage through Veterans Affairs (VA). This represents a 12 percent increase over the last five years. Nearly all those who receive VA coverage choose to use the agency’s services. Veterans cited prescription benefits and access to care for service-related disabilities among the top reasons for selecting the VA over other providers.
An important takeaway from the 10th Annual Warrior Survey is related to access to care for mental health issues. This has been an ongoing issue that continues to affect nearly one-third of veterans in need of care. Fortunately, however, the 2019 survey shows slight improvements in this area over the previous year.
Employment and Financial Well-Being
Numerous barriers make it difficult for some veterans to obtain employment. Fortunately, however, the majority of Warrior Survey respondents (62.6 percent) are employed, and 48.8 percent of them are employed full-time.
The percentage of respondents employed part-time is 7.3 percent, and 6.6 percent are self-employed. For those respondents who are not in the labor force, some of the most commonly cited barriers to employment include mental health issues (35 percent), difficulty being around others (28.3 percent), and physical issues (19.6 percent).
In the areas of income and finances, findings from the 2019 Annual Warrior Survey show that respondents are feeling better about their financial situations than they were in 2018. Nearly 30 percent of warriors surveyed said that their finances have improved compared to the previous year. This represents a 2 percent improvement from 2018 and a nearly 8 percent improvement from the first Warrior Survey in 2010.
One reason for the improvement in finances could be related to the growth in the number of veterans who possess a bachelor’s degree or higher. Over 37 percent of respondents hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, approximately one in five of those surveyed reported that they are currently pursuing post-secondary credentials.
More information about the findings from the 10th Annual Warrior Survey is available at www.woundedwarrior.org.
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