By the numbers

21,000,000 veterans live among us

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related mental health conditions affect approximately 20% of veterans
  • 4,200,000 of our veterans are living with PTSD and related mental health conditions like major depression disorder and generalized anxiety.
  • Only half of those veterans are getting treatment from the VA, and half of those rate their care as minimally adequate or not effective (1,050,000 veterans nationwide).
  • Half of our veterans, 2,100,000 of them, are not getting care from the VA for PTSD.
  • The bottom line? Approximately 3,150,000 United States military veterans are not receiving the care they need to live healthier, reintegrated lives.

2,000,000 United States military members are defending us today

  • 1,400,000 on active duty among the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard
  •  342,000 in the Army National Guard
  •  237,000 in the Army and Marine Reserves
  •  1,300,000 have been deployed more than once
  •   Based on current average diagnosis rates, 408,500 of currently serving military service members  are likely to develop PTSD over a ten year period after they transition out

The bottom line

Current national need for additional mental health services: 3,150,000 veterans

Additional developing mental health needs over the next ten years: 408,500 new veterans

Total national need for additional services over the next ten years (after factoring in projected veteran mortality rates during this time): 3,558,500 veterans

Veterans need more options and more access

The VA is swamped: Between 2005 and 2013, the number of Veterans who received mental health care from VA increased 63 percent, over three times faster than the growth in numbers of VA users overall.  Between 2002 and 2013, more than 1.6 million Veterans left active duty and became eligible for VA care, and just over half of these Veterans have accessed VA care. Among these newer VA users, 54 percent have sought care for mental health disorders, more than double the rate seen among all VA users. (OIA's Annual VA Mental Health Transparency Report, 2014)

Not all veterans can or will access VA services: For a variety of reasons, about half of veterans don't utillize VA services. For some, it may be the simple fact that they don't live near enough to a VA facility to be practical. For others, their discharge status may be barring them from receiving VA benefits, or they may not want their mental health care records in the federal government VA system. Veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma during their service often avoid VA facilities because they are not getting the specific care and support they need to deal with this intensely personal and complex trauma. Mental health care program options vary widely among different VA facilities, and some locations lack the kinds of programming that some veterans need. There is no "one size fits all" therapy that works for everyone. The effects of trauma on mental health are complex, and each person responds differently to therapy approaches. The VA can't be all things to all people all the time.

Veterans need additional choices for effective, evidence-based mental health care that are confidential, in their communities, and are available to all veterans regardless of discharge status. They need broader options that go beyond traditional methods to reach those who don't respond well to talk or behavioral therapies. And they need inclusive options that reduce their sense of isolation and help them reconnect with their family members and communities to improve their chances for long-term success.

Ars Bellum Foundation is part of the solution

Ars Bellum's mobile art therapy programs are an effective addition to the civilian tool kit we need to develop to provide our veterans and military families with the care and support they have earned.