Special Report: Veterans

Recent Stories

Feds fail to track success rate of $30b GI Bill, jeopardizing the program

Veteran Corwin Cherry is attempting college for the third time at Kaplan University in Pensacola, Fla., using the Post-9/11 GI Bill after dropping out twice in what was then Pensacola Junior College. Photo by Anthony Cave/News21

The Post-9/11 GI Bill has paid for nearly 1 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to go to school at a cost about $30 billion since 2009, but the federal government has yet to document how many of those students graduated, much less whether they stayed in school.

Neither the Department of Veterans Affairs nor other agencies maintains data that tracks retention and graduation rates among students under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Without that data, some worry those benefits could be in danger.

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Women are 17% of recent war vets – triple all previous wars

Shapiro sits in the last pew at Church of Christ in Kent, Ohio. "I found out some of my fellow soldiers were killed in action so I started to pray more. And now, it’s like, I started to pray a lot." Photo by Caitlin Cruz/News21

The fight to feel like a veteran weighs substantially on female soldiers returning from war, though their numbers have been historic, with more than 280,000 returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade.

A News21 demographic analysis shows that 17.4 percent of post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are women, a proportion nearly three times that of all previous veteran populations combined. More than a quarter of those women are black, almost twice the proportion found in the entire U.S. population.

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In six-year period, 49,000 vets took their own lives

A memorial for Raymond Matthew Burke, shown here, was placed on the George Washington University Yard June 2 in Washington, D.C. Burke's mother, Mary Anne Burke, and his father, Raymond Burke, participated in the 16-mile Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in memory of their son and to raise money and awareness, and to help prevent suicide. Raymond Matthew Burke died only months before his first deployment on a submarine.

 Photo by Chase Cook/News21

Veterans are killing themselves at more than double the rate of the civilian population with about 49,000 taking their own lives between 2005 and 2011, according to data collected over eight months by News21.

Records from 48 states show the annual suicide rate among veterans is about 30 for every 100,000 of the population, compared to a civilian rate of about 14 per 100,000.

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Bonus plan for veteran’s claims workers means complicated cases get backlogged

Sean Meade was an Army National Guard soldier who was deployed to Iraq during 2006 and 2007. He filed a disability claim in 2008 for back problems and post-traumatic stress disorder. After his PTSD claim was denied, he appealed in 2009 and is still waiting for a response. Photo by Mary Shinn/News21

While veterans waited longer than ever in recent years for their wartime disability compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave its workers millions of dollars in bonuses for “excellent” performances that effectively encouraged them to avoid claims that needed extra work to document veterans’ injuries, a News21 investigation has found.

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Government failing 2.6 million war vets

Soldiers of the 619th Transportation Company deplane in Ft. Dix, NJ, after returning from a year-long deployment in Iraq. The 619th TC, from Auburn, transported heavy equipment and provided security for coalition forces. Approximately 170 soldiers returned home from theater without incident. Photo: Army.mil

In the 12 years since American troops first deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 2.6 million veterans have returned home to a country largely unprepared to meet their needs. The government that sent them to war has failed on many levels to fulfill its obligations to these veterans as demanded by Congress and promised by both Republican and Democratic administrations, a News21 investigation has found. Continue Reading →

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