Where Veterans Can Find Mental Health Services and Other Benefits

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By Giselle Balido

September 13, 2023

Explore the services available for Veterans and their families, including assistance for mental health issues, vocational rehabilitation and employment, dependents’ educational assistance, and survivor benefits.

If there is one song that every Puerto Rican knows by heart, it is “En mi Viejo San Juan” (In my Old San Juan), a moving bolero by Puerto Rican composer and singer Noel Estrada.

At the outbreak of World War II, Estrada joined and served in the United States Army. Being away from his “Puerto Rico del alma” years later would inspire him to compose the beloved canción.

But Estrada is not the only Boricua to serve America. As citizens of the United States, Puerto Ricans have participated in every major United States military engagement from World War I onward.

Many distinguished themselves, like Montserrat Padilla, one of the first members of the city of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, to enlist in the Army, and a veteran of World War I. During World War II, Navy Lt. Maria Rodríguez Denton, born in Guánica, Puerto Rico, became the first known Borinqueña to become a female Navy officer.

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And on March 18, 2014, Juan E. Negrón was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack H. Obama, one of nine recipients of this award from Puerto Rico.

At least 375,000 Puerto Ricans are veterans or are still wearing the uniform, according to the latest statistics.

Dealing With the Impacts

But military service often has consequences: According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the stress of service and the sometimes difficulties they encounter when trying to transition to civilian life can result in higher rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety and substance abuse, among other issues that can impact their lives and their families.

The good news is that if you’re a veteran dealing with mental health issues, or you’re concerned about one, support is available through the US Department of Veterans Affairs and My Army Benefits, the official military benefits website of the U.S. Army.

Explore the Services and Benefits Available

Some of the services and benefits available when you visit the US Department of veterans Affairs include:

RELATED: Boricuas Have Complicated Feelings About the US Military. Here’s Why.

Some of the services and benefits available at My Army Benefits specifically for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico include:

According to the site, eligibility for some of Puerto Rico’s special benefits for service members and veterans and their families–including income tax advantages, property tax exemptions, and education and tuition assistance–may depend on residency, military component and Veteran disability status.

A Veteran’s Legacy

After being honorably discharged from the army, Estrada became a government employee serving as a protocol official for the State Department. It was then that he wrote the song that has been sung all over the world in Spanish as well as in German, English and French, and that generations of Boricuas consider their second national anthem.

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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