New Poll Finds Majority of Americans Are Unaware of Issues Facing Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans and Troops

A new public awareness poll, Supporting Iraq and Afghanistan Troops and Veterans, found two out of three Americans know someone who has served, but the majority of Americans are unaware of the issues Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and troops face.

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There is a very real and disturbing disconnect among the majority of Americans in understanding how deployment contributes to economic, social, and familial stress through a dearth of services and support

Washington, DC (Vocus) May 11, 2010

A new public awareness poll, Supporting Iraq and Afghanistan Troops and Veterans, found two out of three Americans know someone who has served, but the majority of Americans are unaware of the issues Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and troops face.

In fact, less than 50 percent of Americans are even aware that our country has sent 2 million troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, and areas in support of the Global War on Terror.

The Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (CIAV) commissioned the poll to measure American support for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and determine whether the public is aware of the important issues facing current service members and veterans –issues such as unemployment, homelessness, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide. The poll, conducted by Cohen Research Group this April, surveyed 1,000 adults who currently live in the U.S.

“There is a very real and disturbing disconnect among the majority of Americans in understanding how deployment contributes to economic, social, and familial stress through a dearth of services and support,” said Amy Fairweather, program director of the CIAV. “All of which are factors which drive veterans and their families to poverty.”

The poll found that while the psychological effects of the wars are widely known, a majority of Americans are not aware of the unique economic struggles that returning veterans face; including high rates of unemployment, access to healthcare issues, and risk factors for homelessness, poverty, and suicide.

Specifically, 58% of Americans know about the prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder among Iraq and Afghanistan troops and veterans, yet only 35% are aware that not all veterans are eligible for VA healthcare, and only 31% know that veterans can wait up to a year for disability benefits.

Regarding the economic impacts of war and poverty among veterans, fewer than three out of ten Americans know that 20% of male veterans ages 18-24 were unemployed last year and that there are approximately 200,000 homeless veterans in the U.S.

“What the poll tells us is that Americans have little knowledge of the true costs of war,” Fairweather said. “As advocates we understand the tremendous struggles service members face when they return from war, but collectively we have a lot of work ahead of us to educate the public about the sacrifices our warriors make and ensure that the system of care is sufficient and appropriate for military, veterans, their families and survivors.”

The CIAV will address the gaps in services for our military community and discuss ways to foster improved communication with the American public about the issues our troops and veterans face this week at the 3rd annual conference in Washington, DC May 11-14. Service providers, veterans, families, survivors and advocates will share cutting edge expertise and meet with top officials from the VA, DoD, White House and Congress to improve the quality and quantity of support for the military and veteran community. The conference is open to the public and attendees will have an opportunity to learn about the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Register at http://www.coaltionforveterans.org
May 11-14, 2010
Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave
Washington, DC 20036

About the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
The Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans (CIAV) is a national non-partisan partnership of more than 50 organizations committed to working with and on behalf of all military, veterans, families, survivors and providers to strengthen the existing system of care and support for all those affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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