WASHINGTON — Despite serious military injuries, Wounded Warrior Project members have seen a steady growth in employment and college graduation rates in recent years, according to the group’s latest membership survey.
More than a third of group’s members have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, up from 27 percent two years ago, and about 13 percent struggle with unemployment issues, a steady decline in recent years.
WWP officials called those figures “significant success stories” among the challenges their members face daily.
The survey released Monday — the eighth annual membership poll by WWP officials — offers a snapshot into the struggles of troops and veterans still dealing with the wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among the 34,000 veterans and wounded servicemembers who participated in the survey, 77 percent said they struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and 87 percent said they’re dealing with weight issues. Nearly 60 percent have a disability rating of 80 percent or above.
All of those health problems are increases from previous years’ surveys.
About 40 percent of respondents rate their current health as fair, and 11 percent as poor. More than 70 percent said their injuries present challenges in their daily lives.
But officials said they were encouraged by signs of improvement within the survey.
For the first time, more than half of members currently own their own homes. About 6 percent have been without permanent housing at some point in the last two years, a figure that has stayed roughly the same in the annual tally.
About 28 percent of respondents said their financial situation has gotten worse in the last 12 months, but that number is also down from past surveys. One in four said they have seen a financial improvement this year.
As in previous years, the majority of warriors perceive their current relationships with family, friends, coworkers and others in their community to be strong,” the report stated. “Most warriors said there is a trustworthy person they can turn to for advice about problems. In addition, most feel there are people they can depend on to help them when needed.”
The full report is available online at the WWP web site.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.