When wars end, those who fought them are often forgotten. The same has been true with the Iraq and Afghan wars. The US has not turned on its veterans as it once did after Vietnam, but neither is there sufficient recognition of the problems these soldiers face re-integrating into society.
Part of the challenge veterans must tackle is losing the sense of mission and comradeship they enjoyed in the army. One solution now being provided by The Mission Continues is to create peacetime “platoons” focused on aid and charity work at home. Veterans have rekindled their sense of purpose by working with children in foster care, Habitat for Humanity, and the American Red Cross, helping the organization prepare for future disasters. Others work with fellow veterans seriously injured in combat; the platoons help train service animals or teach veterans to ride horses.
Since being set up in 2007 by Eric Greitens, himself a veteran, The Mission Continues has provided paid positions to a 1,000 fellows, with a volunteer system just about to launch.
There are 5 million returning veterans since 2001, almost half of whom have struggled with making the transition back. An estimated 500,000 US service men and women suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Suicide among veterans and active personal is also much higher than in the general population. According to one study released by the US Department of Veteran Affairs in 2013, 22 veterans were taking their lives every day. Nearly one in five suicides nationally is a veteran, even though veterans make up about 10% of the U.S. population.