The Second Continental Congress of the United States created the first army June 14, 1775. Known as the Continental Army, this service is the oldest branch of the United States military and was established to protect the original 13 colonies. It was not until Sept. 29, 1789 that an act of Congress officially established the military as we know it today. Since that time, thousands of men and women have defended our country in conflicts at home and overseas. There are currently more than 1.3 million active-duty troops, of which approximately 200,000 are stationed overseas. The U.S. Armed Forces also has 865,000 reservists.
According to recent United States Census statistics, the number of veterans in the U.S. today is 18.8 million. This number represents 7.6% of the total population of the United States. The census reports that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) provides health care services to more than 9 million veterans each year through its 1,062 outpatient clinics and 172 medical centers.
The number of veterans in the U.S. has increased modestly since the establishment of the first Colonial Army, resulting in the need for additional services that are focused on the unique needs of this population. Blindness, for instance, is not an uncommon result of combat, and some veterans’ assistance organizations have developed services that address the needs of this subgroup of veterans.
Health care benefits, vocational rehabilitation, educational assistance, housing and financial services are some of the most important programs that are currently in place to assist veterans who have been injured through the course of serving our country. Many of these benefits are administered at low cost or no cost to eligible veterans and their families. Services are sometimes delivered through programs that use peer mentoring to provide disabled veterans with the support they need to make a successful reentry.