Valuing Our Veterans

by 3 Generations
Vetted
Shelley McNeill, Former U.S. Army NCO
Shelley McNeill, Former U.S. Army NCO

3 Generations strives to provide safe platforms for women veterans to tell their stories, heal and inspire others to do the same. In 2013, we produced a short documentary about John Cash, an ex-veteran who created a successful therapy using horses to treat PTSD patients. One of the clients we interviewed was Shelley McNeill, a former U.S. army NCO who experienced assault whilst on active duty in Iraq. In her own words:

“I was built way up. I love life. I love the military. I was often the only woman NCO that ever went and it never really caused any problems, but eventually one night I was leaving a guest house and I was assaulted. And I just got up and walked away from it like nothing ever happened. And I began to notice there was something wrong with me.”

The US active-duty force is now comprised of 14.6% women, women who are not exempt from the issues affecting thousands of our returning servicemen: unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse, and PTSD. Yet two causes that increase the risk of homelessness for women veterans remain underspoken: their disadvantaged status as single mothers and their pervasive experience with Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

According to a 2008 Department of Veterans Affairs study, 48,000 women veterans have experienced MST, an experience of sexual assault that increases by ninefold the risk of PTSD: a significant factor which contributes to homelessness. The current way the military deals with claims of sexual assault only increases women soldiers’ vulnerability.  Women sexual assault victims who are “discharged” lose their veteran benefits, leaving them in a precarious place.

At 3 Generations, we respect the sacrifices our veterans have made for our nation and recognize how many of our veterans deserve more than their current realities. Trump’s presidential campaign has promised to improve the wellbeing of our veterans by fighting bureaucratic corruption and improving access to both physical and mental health programs. He has also promised to take better care of our female veterans.

With a change in administration, we aim to keep a close eye on veterans’ issues and hold policymakers accountable for the promises that have been made. Moreover, by creating safe platforms for our women veterans to speak out and inspire, we hope to create more awareness on the prevalence of MST and improve the care given to our veterans.

Shelley McNeill at Combat Veterans Cowboy Up.
Shelley McNeill at Combat Veterans Cowboy Up.

Links:

Jane Wells at N.D. Veterans Cemetery, Sept. 2016
Jane Wells at N.D. Veterans Cemetery, Sept. 2016

At 3 Generations we work to honor and share the stories of the incredibly diverse group of Americans who have served this country and whom we collectively recognize on Veterans Day. This Fall much of our focus has been on Native Americans. In September we visited the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan, North Dakota and learned that Native Americans currently serve in the U.S. Armed Forces in higher numbers per capita than any other ethnic group in the United States.  

 

According to the 2010 U.S. Census estimates, there were 156,515 American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. The Pentagon estimates that well over 22,000 American and Alaska Native active duty personnel currently serve across the Armed Forces. The number of female American Indian/Alaska Native veterans is twice the national average.

 

Native Americans have served the U.S. military for the past 200 years.  They heeded to the call of duty during the American Revolution, famously contributed as code breakers during World War I and World War II. They served in Korea, Vietnam and are Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans too. They served in the First World War when they were not yet classified as citizens, and again in World War II when they did not yet have the right to vote. (That right was not granted until 1965). And yet they served and honorably.

 

Today American and Alaska Native veterans face as many, and arguably even more difficulties than veterans of other ethnic groups, for they have the lowest median income of any veteran group.

 

As we mark another Veterans Day we honor all our Veterans but want to give a special shout out to Native American Veterans, a vital minority group who don’t always get the recognition they deserve. Look for upcoming interviews with Native veterans.

 

Follow 3 Generations on Facebook on Veteran's Day as we publish a host of materials on Veterans' challenges and triumphs!

North Dakota Veterans Cemetery
North Dakota Veterans Cemetery

We are hard at work expanding our commitment to tell the stories of veterans with the creation of a brand new Veteran Film series. This new project will feature a series of optimistic short films featuring U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. These films will show how veterans have overcome the challenge of adjusting to life back in the United States and focus on solutions, specifically showing how veterans have applied their military experience to affect positive change here at home.

The United States has been at war for the past 15 years. This new war has led to women engaging in combat roles, the unprecedented pace of repeat deployments and the use of drones in warfare. 2.7 million veterans have returned to domestic soil to restart their lives since 2001, and we will show how innovative thinking and technology have played a role in improving veteran life in the United States.

Our goal in this film series is to highlight diversity among veterans including forms specific to the military such as duty status, type of service, service region and military branch.

We thank our donors for their continued support in helping us share the stories of our nation's veterans.

Between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year. On any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the United States. These are just a few of the startling statistics regarding the current state of veterans in the United States. Here at 3 Generations we are proud to announce our newest effort to raise awareness of the issues facing veterans today: Our Veterans Video Lab (or VLAB).

Research shows that individual-based narrative exposure therapy, aka storytelling, is effective with individuals with high levels of PTSD. Telling their stories helps heal victims of violence. At 3 Generations our plan is to utilize social video marketing to tell the stories of the 21.6 million U.S. veterans. The goal to create a mobile video lab where we can make high quality social videos of veterans on the street, in our office or anywhere veterans want to tell their stories. 

Our mission is to create survivor-based evidence, to use it as a catalyst for change (via the organizations we partner with), all the while maintaining an ever-growing archive of these human rights abuses. Our methodology has been extremely successful, reaching audiences in the millions, generating tens of millions of media hits, and leading to awards for both ourselves and our partner NGOs. We have launched media campaigns that included local, national and international press coverage.

We are extremely excited about launching our veterans video lab, and it is made possible by your continued support in our organization. Thanks to generous individuals like you we are able to do all that we aspire to do. Thank you!

Here at 3 Generations we are proud to continue to raise awareness about the many issues our veterans face as they return home from service. We are honored to spread their stories throughout our various social media platforms. Our newest intern, Luis Rivera-Nesrala, recently wrote a fantastic blog post detailing his ideas about the current issues facing our veterans and reintegration from his perspective as the son of an active-duty United States Army service member.

Luis is a third-year student at New York University where he is studying Economics with a minor in Arabic. His chief interests are in geopolitical economics, particularly in regards to the Middle East. We are thrilled to have Luis on board and urge you to check out his post here:

http://www.3generations.org/reintegrationwars-hidden-challenge/

Thank you for all of your generous support. Don't forget to check out our other projects and stay up to date on all our news by visiting our website www.3generations.org for all our latest news and updates. 

Links:

 

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Organization Information

3 Generations

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.3generations.org
Project Leader:
Jane Wells
3 Generations Founder and President
New York, NY United States

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