After many heard the story of Andrew Chambers—currently in jail after being denied treatment for mental injuries—a preponderance of people asked why the government or society-at-large couldn’t have done more for Chambers or any of the other countless veterans who fall through the cracks. Veterans who’ve served in the last decade are significantly more likely to be unemployed than civilians. Like McDonald’s, the government accepts that many low-ranking soldiers (especially those with families) will rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP in order to make ends meet. Well those who’ve separated from the military, but are unemployed also rely on SNAP, which has just faced historic cuts the first of November and is poised to face even more cuts as a result of the Farm Bill which has passed both the House and the Senate. Of the $53 billion cut from the federal budget as a result of the bill, nearly $40 billion of it comes from SNAP benefits.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reading of Census data, “approximately 900,000 veterans receive SNAP assistance each month.” adding via parenthetical aside, “[t]his figure is almost surely understated, because Census data do not capture SNAP receipt by homeless veterans.” Of those veterans receiving benefits, 170,000 of them might lose their benefits because of the House version of the bill, specifically two provisions relating to food assistance for jobless workers.
Also, according to a report from the Urban Institute, underemployed veterans could benefit from the expanded access to Medicaid as a result of the Affordable Care Act. There are a significant number of veterans who do not use the VA—either because they don’t have access or don’t want to contribute to an overloaded system—that could get basic medical care (including mental health services) much faster than they would through the VA, whose current backlog of cases is shrinking but by no means fixed.