NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - We know how to celebrate veterans. Once a year, Veterans Day parades are filled with smiles and appreciation. But the next 364 days that follow leave some veterans feeling forgotten.
"They will be struggling for the rest of their life," said David Acosta, who served with the Army Airborne Signal Corps. Even today, he holds a frustration with civilian life, saying to understand veterans we need to empathize with what they have been through.
"Imagine you're in a situation where you're stuck in a swamp and there's leeches all over your body and you can't say a word and you can't move," Acosta said.
While many assimilate back into civilian life, an alarming number of veterans cannot.
Iran and Afghanistan Veterans of America founder Paul Rieckhoff told Good Day New York that the United States has to tackle some serious issued regarding veterans, such as fighting a suicide problem and reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to the mental health and assimilation issues, returning veterans also have to wrestle with a complicated and sometimes flawed benefits system. Many veterans across the country haven't received their G.I. benefits for months.
Manuel Lallave said that he took a decade to get back into civilian life after the Army. He said that for years he wasn't even aware of programs or benefits available to him.
IAVA, Wounded Warriors Project, Veterans Crisis Hotline, and other programs are all the more important in helping veterans fight their private battles long after the parades and their service have ended.