As Americans Celebrate Veterans Day, New Survey Reveals Misunderstandings About Veterans Abound
From patriotic parades to concerts to ceremonies, Veterans Day is filled with events across the country to honor those who have served. But as the nation celebrates veterans, the new CVN Military 101 Survey reveals that Americans’ overall knowledge about the U.S. military and veterans is low. When asked what percentage of the population has ever served in the U.S. military, nearly half (48%) of Americans answered, “not sure.” While only a fraction (2%) of the population responded with the correct answer, which is approximately 7% or roughly 19 million Americans who have served.
The CVN Military 101 Survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted by The Harris Poll, also found:
- More than half (55%) of Americans believe the majority of U.S. veterans experience PTSD.
- FACT: PTSD impacts 11-20% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, about 12% of Gulf War veterans and 15% of Vietnam veterans.
- More than half (55%) of Americans believe anyone who serves in the military is a called a “soldier.”
- FACT: Every military member is not a soldier. Soldiers are only in the Army. While the Army is the largest component of the U.S. military and their members are called soldiers, there are five other branches of service, and each has its own unique history and name. Military members want to be described correctly: Army (Soldier), Marine Corps (Marine), Navy (Sailor), Air Force (Airman), Space Force (Guardian), and Coast Guard (Coastguardsman).
- Over a quarter (28%) of Americans answered “not sure” when asked how many branches there are in the U.S. military. Only 14% of Americans provided the correct response.
- FACT: There are six branches of the U.S. Military – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the recently established Space Force.
- Nearly 7-in-10 Americans (69%) answered “not sure” when asked how many service members leave military service and transition to civilian life each year.
- FACT: “Every year, approximately 200,000 men and women leave U.S. military service and return to life as civilians, a process known as the military-to-civilian transition,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The experience of transitioning to civilian life varies among veterans and their families.
- More than half (57%) of Americans answered “not sure” when asked what percentage of the U.S. military is made up of Guardsmen and Reservists.
- FACT: There are two ways to serve in uniform – on active duty, where members’ full-time job is putting on the uniform and serving in the Armed Forces; or the Guard and Reserve, where members traditionally serve in uniform part-time, while holding a civilian job in their communities. The National Guard and Reserve make up approximately 33% of the overall military – currently, just over 800,000 individuals.
Learn more facts about veterans and the military community with CVN’s Veterans Day Pop Quiz.
Survey Reveals Misconceptions About Suicide Prevention
In September 2021, Cohen Veterans Network revealed findings of its America’s Mental Health Suicide Prevention Pulse Survey, which looked at Americans’ general knowledge of suicide prevention. The survey coincides with the network’s #AskTheQuestion public awareness campaign, which encourages people to take action if they’re concerned that someone they know may be having thoughts of suicide. September marks Suicide Prevention Month intended to bring awareness to the topic and promote suicide prevention best practices.
“Suicide prevention is a top priority for Cohen Veterans Network,” said Cohen Veterans Network President and CEO Dr. Anthony Hassan. “The stigma associated with suicide and seeking help are significant barriers to treatment. With this survey, we wanted to address myths that exist around suicide and misconceptions that stand in the way of suicide intervention. Our goal is to help empower people to take action should they be concerned about someone they know.”
The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll, offers an overview of Americans’ understanding of suicide prevention. Key findings include:
–Nearly half (44%) of Americans say that if they had reason to believe that someone they know might be having thoughts of suicide they would NOT be comfortable asking them ”Have you thought about killing yourself?”
-Over one-third (36%) of Americans believe it is best not to ask someone who might be having suicidal thoughts, ”Are you thinking about taking your own life?”
-Nearly one-third (29%) of Americans believe asking someone if they are thinking about taking their own life may make them more likely to kill themselves.
-Nearly half (45%) of Americans believe that most suicides happen suddenly, without warning or ”on a whim.”
Americans’ Strong Misconceptions On PTSD Revealed
In early June 2021, CVN revealed findings of its America’s Mental Health PTSD Pulse Survey, which looked at Americans’ general knowledge and understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. June marks PTSD Awareness Month intended to raise public awareness and reduce the stigma associated with the disorder.
PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
“A lack of understanding feeds into the stigma associated with mental health challenges such as PTSD, which can deter people from seeking care,” said Cohen Veterans Network President and CEO Dr. Anthony Hassan. “As a means to address any misunderstandings that surround PTSD, we wanted to take a look at Americans’ perceptions of the disorder. What we found is that there are strong misconceptions on everything from symptoms to treatments.”
The May 2021 survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults and conducted by The Harris Poll, offers a broad overview of Americans’ perceptions of PTSD. Among the highlights:
– Two-Thirds (67%) of Americans believe the Majority of Veterans Experience PTSD
– One in Four (26%) Americans believe the Majority of People with PTSD are Violent/Dangerous
– Nearly One in Four (23%) Americans believe PTSD is Not Treatable
– Additionally, two-thirds (65%) of Americans who have been diagnosed with PTSD say that the civil unrest, political polarization & isolation created by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year has negatively impacted their recovery
Summer 2020: Pulse Surveys Reveal Impact of Pandemic
America’s Mental Health Pulse Surveys, released in April and June 2020, examined the state of mental health of Americans during the pandemic. The initial survey took an overall look at mental health in this country, with an additional deep dive into how veterans and military families are feeling. Newer data in June brings insight into how Frontline Healthcare Providers and First Responders have dealt with the pandemic.
Overall, the 2020 America’s Mental Health Pulse Survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults offered a comprehensive snapshot of the mindset of Americans surrounding mental health during the pandemic. Key findings included:
– 70% of Americans are worried about their physical health due to COVID-19, and 58% of Americans are concerned about their mental health because of social distancing
– Two-thirds (64%) of Americans report feeling anxious, yet only one in six (14%) households have accessed mental health care as a result of the pandemic
AMH Pulse: Military Connected Data
CVN also released specific data from post-9/11 veterans, active-duty military and their families. The info was featured in a Stars & Stripes story on April 23, 2020. Among the highlights:
– While 14% of the general population sought mental health care during COVID-19, 50% + sought mental health care in the military-connected community.
– Nearly seven in ten veterans who served after 9/11 say they are concerned about their mental health because of social distancing and 6 in ten said they were concerned about their employment status.
AMH Pulse: Frontline Healthcare Providers and First Responders
On June 11, 2020, on the three-month milestone of the global pandemic, CVN announced the results of a national survey of frontline healthcare providers (HCPs) and first responders that showed that COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on their physical and mental health. Key survey findings included:
– Nearly three in four healthcare providers feel their job is putting the lives of their family at risk because of the pandemic (73%).
– In New York City six in ten (58%) frontline HCPs are concerned about their mental health; 29% feel scared.
About the Surveys
Cohen Veterans Network is committed to increasing access to mental health care services. America’s Mental Health PTSD Pulse Survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Cohen Veterans Network and included 2,032 American adults aged 18 or older who participated in an online survey between May 18 – 19, 2021. Results were weighted to Census targets for education, age/gender, race/ethnicity, region, household income, and propensity to be online were adjusted where necessary to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population.
On behalf of the Cohen Veterans Network, The Harris Poll conducted 523 online interviews among frontline healthcare providers and first responders nationally and in New York City from May 19 – 28, 2020. Combined with the national sample, an oversample yielded a total of 153 of New York City uniformed frontline workers. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
The America’s Mental Health COVID-19 Pulse Survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Cohen Veterans Network and included 2,026 American adults aged 18 or older who participated in an online survey between March 30 – April 1, 2020. Results were weighted to Census targets for education, age/gender, race/ethnicity, region, household income, and propensity to be online were adjusted where necessary to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population.
These pulse surveys come as follow-ups to the 2018 America’s Mental Health Study done in collaboration between CVN and the National Council on Behavioral Health. That study revealed American mental health services are insufficient, and despite high demand, the root of the problem is lack of access – or the ability to find care.
– National Veterans Crisis Hotline: Dial 988, push 1
– National Women Veterans Hotline: (855) 829-6636
– National Domestic Violence: (800) 799-SAFE (7233)
– SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline