Know the Facts

  • The war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history fought by an all-volunteer force.
  • Substance abuse disorders remain one of the three top diagnoses in the Veterans Administration (VA) system.
  • According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), 18 veterans commit suicide every day.
  • Lifetime projected taxpayer cost for OEF/OIF veterans: $350 billion-$700 billion (if nothing is done to help bridge the gap in terms of treatment that is available. (
  • PTSD is the most prevalent mental health disorder among veterans of OEF and OIF who use Veterans Affairs healthcare.  (Journal of American Medical Association report, March 2012)
  • Vets who have been prescribed painkillers and suffer from PTSD along with physical pain are at high risk for drug and alcohol abuse. (Journal of American Medical Association report, March 2012)
  • Per the Department of Defense 2012 budget submission report, psychiatric drugs have been used more widely across the military in the current conflict than in any previous war.
  •  The wide availability of prescription medication greatly increases the potential for drug overdose. (Army 2020:  Generating Health and Discipline in the Force Ahead of the Strategic Reset, 2012)
  • Soldiers contemplating suicide were more likely to suffer from symptoms of PTSD, depression and alcohol abuse.
  • At least 63% of attempted Army suicides were associated with drug or alcohol overdose.  (Army 2020:  Generating Health and Discipline in the Force Ahead of the Strategic Reset, 2012)
  • Four percent of soldiers had been prescribed an opiod painkiller with oxycodone, accounting for 95 percent of those prescription; 25-35% of wounded soldiers are addicted to prescription or illegal drugs while they await medial discharge.  (Army 2020:  Generating Health and Discipline in the Force Ahead of the Strategic Reset, 2012)
  • Most soldiers today have deployed at least once; many have deployed two or more times on 12- to 15-month rotations.  Nearly two-thirds of those soldiers who deployed had less than 24 months of  “dwell” time spent back home resetting, retraining and recuperating before deploying again.  (Army 2020:  Generating Health and Discipline in the Force ahead of the Strategic Reset, 2012.)
  • A large study of 206,000 veterans (using VA health records from 2000 to 2007) determined that one in three patients were diagnosed with at least one mental heath disorder – 41% were diagnosed with either a mental health or behavioral adjustment disorder, with 15% diagnosed with depression.  (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2010)
  • Soldiers who had higher rates of exposure to the threat of death/injury were significantly more likely to screen positive for alcohol misuse.
  • On any given day, veterans account for nine of every 100 individuals in U.S. jails and prisons. Veterans with PTSD are having encounters with the police; the majority of these encounters are alcohol- and drug-related crimes. (NAMI Pennsylvania Veterans Advisory Council)
  • Substance abuse is the number one predictor of incarceration of veterans.

Homelessness (National Coalition for the Homeless)

  • Approximately one-third of homeless adults are veterans, although veterans represent only 11% of the civilian population.
  • On any given night, up to 300,000 veterans are homeless.
  • OEF and OIF vets represent 1.8% of the homeless vet population.
  • More than three-quarters—76 %--of homeless veterans suffer from a substance abuse or mental health disorder.
  • More than 67% served our country for at least three years.

Unemployment (Bureau of Labor Report, 2011)

  • One-third, or 33.2%, of OEF and OIF veterans between the ages of 18 to 24 are unemployed as compared to the national rate of 14.9%.
  • Unemployment rate among female veterans who served since September 2001 was 16.8%, compared to 7.8% for civilian counterparts.
  • As of December 2011, 13.1 of all OIF and OEF veterans were jobless.

Female Veterans (National Coalition for the Homeless)

  • More than 144 female service members have been killed and 865 have been wounded in combat and non-combat incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Forty percent of active duty women have children; 11% are single mothers.
  • Approximately 21% of the homeless OIF and OEF vets are women.
  • The number of homeless female veterans has more than doubled from 1,380 to 3,328 between FY 2006 to 2010, according to a December 2011 U.S. GAO report. 
  • The risk of women veterans becoming homeless is four times greater than for male veterans (Vets Inc.)
  • PTSD and co-occurring with substance abuse is more common in women. (SAMHSA)