Homeless Veterans: A National Issue

Convergent sources estimate that between 23 and 40 percent of homeless adults are veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans estimates that as many as 200,000 homeless people are veterans, and that over the course of the year, approximately 336,627 veterans experience homelessness. There are veterans of different conflicts, including World War II, Korean War,Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan; research indicates that those serving in late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era are at greatest risk of homelessness. Recent media accounts highlight a small but growing trend of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan showing up in shelters.

Once productive members of our society, these soldiers left their communities to represent our country and her citizens. For some veterans, the stress associated with war has been too much resulting in drug and alcohol addiction. Many of these veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, can ‘develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat’.

Among other veteran groups, these veterans are known as MIA – “Missing in America”. They lack goals for the future and while dealing with the problems mentioned above, many find themselves homeless. With no permanent address to apply for jobs or VA benefits, homeless veterans find themselves in a situation of despair. Yet, there is Hope.

Some Facts About Homeless Veterans In USA

  • 23-40% of homeless adults are veterans 
  • 97% of homeless veterans are males 
  • 46% of homeless veterans are white males 
  • 46% of homeless veterans are 45 or older 
  • 40% of homeless veterans have drug problems 
  • 58% of homeless veterans have alcohol problems 
  • In 2006, approximately 195,827 veterans were homeless on a given night—an increase of 0.8 percent from 194,254 in 2005 
  • Homeless veterans can be found in every state across the country and live in rural, suburban, and urban communities 
  • Homeless veterans have served in different wars, including World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama and Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. 
  • Veterans serving in the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era have the highest representation in the homes population 
  • Small but growing number of veterans from the Iraq Wars are showing up in shelters. 
Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness

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