VoteVets.org Action Fund Launches Advocacy Effort to
Give Voice to the 21st Century Patriot and Veteran
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new poll released today of American service men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan shows that at the start of heavy combat (2003 and 2004), nearly half of our troops reported they did not have “up-armored” vehicles that would be considered mission capable. According to the poll, conducted by VoteVets.org Action Fund, the clear majority of veterans – both active duty personnel as well as National Guard and
Reservists – believe the Army and Marines are over-extended in Iraq and Afghanistan, having endured extensions of duty and stop-loss orders as the U.S. military increased operations abroad. When the veterans polled returned home, many encountered emotional and physical health problems as well as economic hardship, indicating that the impact of their service extends beyond their tour of duty.
“The results of this poll should be a wake up call to every American. We are shortchanging our troops – in combat and at home,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran, Co-Founder and Chairman of VoteVets.org Action Fund. “I am proud of my service in Iraq, but my job was made more difficult by the real life-or-death challenges I faced when it came to equipment and supplies that were inadequate or not fully operational. Our leaders should pay careful attention to the experiences of my peers – the first batch of 21st century veterans to have served in an all volunteer army – because they are telling us that problems exist. Today’s military can only be successful if we have the support and resources necessary to fulfill our duties.”
Veterans faced real challenges with equipment and supplies while in Iraq or Afghanistan.
- Nearly half of all veterans (42 percent) reported that their equipment did not meet the military standard that requires a unit to be at least 90 percent operational.
- Later deployments reported improvements in operational equipment: only 52 and 49 percent of veterans serving in 2003 and 2004 respectively reported their equipment was operational compared to 61 percent of those who served in 2005 and later.
- Thirty-five percent of veterans said their trucks were not up-armored at all and 10 percent said the trucks were up-armored with scrap metal
- One-fifth of veterans have been impacted by stop-loss regulations or extensions and the majority believes the Army and Marine Corps are overextended.
- Twenty percent of respondents said their unit was extended past its original time frame.
- Thirteen percent of all veterans say they were affected by stop-loss regulations, including 14 percent of National Guard and Reservists.
- Overall, 63 percent of all Iraq or Afghanistan veterans believe the Army and Marine Corps are overextended at this time, including 67 percent of Army and Marine veterans and 66 percent of veterans who experienced ground combat.
- When these soldiers returned home, many encountered emotional and physical health problems as well as economic hardship resulting from their service.
- One in four veterans has experienced nightmares since returning, including 33 percent of Army and Marines veterans and 36 percent of combat veterans.
- A fifth of all veterans (21 percent) and a quarter of Army and Marines (26 percent) and ground combat veterans (27 percent) say they have felt more stress now then before they left for war.
- Among National Guard or Reserve veterans, 32 percent said their families experienced economic hardship; 25 percent feel more stress now than before the war; 32 percent experienced more extreme highs and lows; and 30 percent experienced nightmares.
- Twenty six percent of all veterans have sought some service from the VA or a VA Hospital, including 33 percent of Reservists and National Guard respondents.
Despite similar military experiences, Reservists do not have access to the same health care as active duty personnel. Given how many veterans have sought some sort of care or assistance, it is no surprise that veterans across the board believe National Guard and Reservists deserve access to TriCare, the medical coverage provided to active duty personnel.
Seventy nine percent of all veterans agree that National Guard and Reserve veterans ought to have the same access to Tri-Care as active duty men and women, including 80 percent of Army or Marines respondents, 81 percent of combat veterans, and 83 percent of Reservists and National Guard veterans.
VoteVets.org Action Fund (501c-4) was established to give voice to the 21st century veteran and patriot and to raise concerns about the state of today’s military preparedness as well as the resources and support available to service men and women. VoteVets.org Action Fund supports the 21st century veteran through our advocacy and education. VoteVets.org Action Fund seeks to inform the public policy debate in order to improve the resources for and commitment to the men and women of the U.S. military – both those serving today, and those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The poll, which included 453 respondents, was conducted by Lake Research Partners between September 6 and 19, 2006. Respondents varied by political affiliation: 47 percent of veterans in the poll identified themselves as Republicans, 17 percent Democrats, and 22 percent as Independents, while 14 percent declined to answer. For more information on VoteVets.org Action Fund and the poll, please visit http://www.VoteVets.org.