Ratings for VA Care

Most veterans, 73%, said they have received benefits from the VA, although fewer than half, 46%, rated their care as good or excellent.

Yet, most of the recent veterans, 64%, also opined that the government has given them about as much help as it should have, although around a third said that they needed more. Overall, post-9/11 veterans are more likely than those from previous eras to say the government has given them less help than it should have—43% vs. 27%.

Part of the issue for younger veterans is that the majority of them apparently believe that the wars for which they were deployed were not really worth fighting.

The survey included the following:

  • Two-thirds of veterans (64%) said they think the war in Iraq was not worth fighting considering the costs vs. the benefits to the United States, while 33% say it was. About 58% said the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting.
  • Views differ significantly by party, with Republican and Republican-leaning veterans are much more likely than veterans who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party to say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were worth fighting.
  • 45% of Republican veterans vs. 15% of Democratic veterans say the war in Iraq was worth fighting, while 46% of Republican veterans and 26% of Democratic veterans say the same about Afghanistan.

When it comes to Syria, views on U.S. military engagement in Syria are even more negative, with 55% saying the campaign hasn’t been worth it.

About two-thirds of all veterans (68%) say, in the first few years after leaving the military, they frequently felt proud of their military service. Pre-9/11 veterans are more likely to say they frequently felt proud of their service, however, than are post-9/11 veterans—70% vs. 58%.

While the military gets kudos for properly preparing servicemembers for the battlefield, veterans pointed out that they had little or no preparation for the return to civilian life. About half, 52%, said the DoD gave them tools for that transition, compared to 91% who reported that they were well-prepared for military life.

While about three-quarters of all veterans (73%) say readjusting to civilian life was very or somewhat easy, roughly 1 in 4 (26%) say it was at least somewhat difficult.

One result is a significant gap between pre- and post-9/11 veterans in their success in returning to civilian life. About half of post-9/11 veterans (47%) say it was very or somewhat difficult for them to readjust to civilian life after their military service, compared to about 20% of veterans who served before 9/11.

“For many veterans, the imprint of war is felt beyond their tour of duty and carries over into the transition from military to civilian life. This is true regardless of era of service,” the authors explained. “When asked about their experiences in the first few years after leaving the military, combat veterans are less likely than those who didn’t serve in combat to say they frequently felt optimistic about their future, and they are more likely to say they didn’t get the respect they deserved, struggled with the lack of structure in civilian life and felt disconnected from family or friends.”