REPORTING VETERAN ABUSE
Reporting Veteran Abuse
In the United States, the rise of veteran abuse is troubling and disconcerting. Even though Veteran’s Affairs (VA) community living centers are heavily integrated and generously-funded, elderly veterans are at a higher risk to be abused and neglected1. According to a study conducted by Lidia et al., veterans represent about one-third of the total senior population. Though there’s been minimal research into veteran abuse, the researchers maintain that the added trauma of being in the armed forces and the increased financial benefits increases the risk of abuse and neglect1.
In the VA health care system, the ‘VA Directive 2012-022: Reporting Cases of Abuse and Neglect’ governs elder abuse. According to the policy, VA community living centers are required to provide compassionate care towards veterans who meet specific requirements, ensuring that any issues that arise are dealt with promptly and appropriately.
The requirements are strict, and the VA only consider veterans whose physical and mental well-being has declined drastically––exhibiting chronic conditions such as dementia, or require care and comfort at the end of life2. This, therefore, means that such veterans are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Veteran elder abuse can lead to deteriorating of quality of life, and undermines physical and mental problems.
Types of Veterans Elder Abuse
Neglect can range from failing to provide water, nutritional food, refusing to assist with daily living and personal hygiene to withholding medical intervention. Here, uneducated staff and lack of resources can lead to unintentional neglect.
2- Physical Abuse.
Physical abuse can range from shoving to slapping to severe beatings or being restrained using chains or ropes. Such behavior can be regarded as abusive as force is applied to cause unnecessary injury and pain. In addition, inappropriate use of medications and physical punishment of any kind can be considered as elder veteran abuse.
3- Psychological Abuse.
Psychological abuse can range from verbal abuse to using “silent treatment” to threaten and intimidate the elderly veteran. If a veteran experiences mental anguish, fear, or emotional distress, because of a particular behavior, then they are considered to be abused.
4- Financial Abuse and Exploitation.
Financial abuse and exploitation includes issues such as misuse of funds, embezzlement, fraud, forgery, forced property transfers and inappropriate use of legal guardianship arrangement. Veterans are particularly vulnerable here because they receive benefits from their time in the armed forces.
Reporting Veteran Abuse
According to American Psychological Association, for every case of elder abuse and neglect that is reported, 23 cases go undetected3. If veteran abuse and neglect is detected, it must be reported. There are several organizations that deal with veteran abuse; from advocacy to improving public awareness. These organizations can help in dealing with veteran abuse:
1- National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)
Call NCEA 1-855-500-3537 or visit their resourceful website https://ncea.acl.gov/. The information is available to everyone.
2- Adult Protective Services (APS) https://www.napsa-now.org/
APS is present in all 50 states, and is equipped to receive and investigate allegations of elder neglect and abuse.
3- Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) https://www.n4a.org/
AAAs provide support and services to vulnerable older adults and often include a long-term care ombudsman and an elder abuse prevention specialist.
4- National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) https://www.ncall.us/
NCALL offers support and assistance related to abuse in later life and elder abuse. Their website provides resources and offers consultation concerning veteran abuse.
1 Lidia Vognar, David Dosa, and Laura Taylor. “The Impact of Elder Abuse on a Growing Senior Veteran Population” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6366603/
2 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: https://www.va.gov/health/rights/patientrights.asp
3 American Psychological Association. “Elder Abuse and Neglect: In Search of Solutions.” (2012). https://www.apa.org/pi/aging/resources/guides/elder-abuse