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Stories of Service: Veterans concerned about mental health, toxic exposure, finances

The latest annual warrior survey from Wounded Warrior Project and CSX demonstrates the effects of war and military operations on wounded, ill, and injured veterans.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In this week's stories of service, we want to talk about the issues facing our veterans. Two Jacksonville-based organizations worked together to conduct what they say is the largest, most comprehensive survey of post-9/11 wounded veterans.

The latest annual warrior survey from Wounded Warrior Project and CSX demonstrates the effects of war and military operations on wounded, ill and injured veterans and how it can last a lifetime.  

Here's some of the key issues facing our veterans:

  • Mental health continues to be a critical concern for post-9/11 wounded warriors. Nearly one in four warriors had suicidal thoughts in the last 12 months. Of that one in four, 70% had those thoughts in the last two weeks.
  • Toxic exposure is a major health concern. Nearly all warriors, about 98%, report exposure to hazardous or toxic substances during military service. More than seven in 10 were exposed to burn pits.
  • Nearly seven in 10 women warriors, about 67%, have experienced military sexual trauma. About 6% of men have experienced MST.
  • Warriors are struggling to manage their finances. More than two in five warriors, about 42%, did not have enough money to make ends meet in the past 12 months. 

What is being done to help our veterans with these problems?  First Coast News Anchor Anthony Austin spoke with Dr. Melanie Mousseau with Wounded Warrior Project about that.

"This is something that we take near and dear to our heart, and to make modifications to make sure that our programs are addressing those pressing, as well as the emerging, needs of warriors. But, also it informs our partners like CSX of where some of those critical needs are. One finding that I know is especially relevant to our partners at CSX is the the impact of having employee resource groups available to veterans, because it really enhances the level of job satisfaction," Mousseau said. 

Click here to read full results of the WWP survey.

This survey was made possible through the support of CSX. One in five of its employees have served in the military. Bryan Tucker with CSX says this helps the company understand their employees' needs and how to best serve them.

"The survey helps us understand some of the emerging needs that are required, for instance, the issues of mental health and suicide prevention training. Things that we've offered our own employees here at CSX and supported the Wounded Warrior Project as they deploy these efforts to the members that they serve," Tucker added. 

This survey was conducted in the summer of 2021 and represents more than 152,000 Wounded Warrior Project veterans.

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