50,000 US veterans are homeless

This Veterans’ Day, it will be a cold night in most parts of the country, and especially cold for the homeless. On any given night in the US, more than 578,000 children and adults are homeless, including 31 percent who were not in shelters. Homelessness among military veterans is troubling. Nationally, 11 percent of homeless adults are veterans. These figures and many others appear in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR). It was released last month.

AHAR provides estimates of homeless veterans in each state, such as 108 homeless veterans in the lesser populated state of Rhode Island, to more than 12,000 in California. Compared to 11 percent nationally, South Dakota and Wyoming have the highest proportion of homeless adults who are veterans, 21 and 20 percent, respectively. The report indicates that in most states homeless veterans were typically in shelters, however, in five states, the majority of homeless veterans were living in unsheltered locations: MT (63%), CA (63%), NV (60%), HI (58%) and GA (55%). Unsheltered locations refers living on the street, in abandoned buildings, vehicles or parks.

A 2012 report by the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs provides key data about and explained key risk factors for veterans becoming homeless.

  • “Veterans who experienced homelessness after military separation were younger, enlisted with lower pay grades, and more likely to be diagnosed with mental disorders and/or traumatic brain injury at the time of separation from active duty.”
  • “Substance-related disorders and/or mental illness is the strongest predictor of becoming homeless after discharge from active duty.”

With respect to veterans who were involved in “Operation Enduring Freedom” (OEF) and “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (OIF):

  • Forty-eight percent of newly homeless males and 67 percent of newly homeless females had been diagnosed with some mental disorder prior to discharge from active duty.
  • Homeless veterans, especially women, had received disproportionally higher military sexual trauma-related treatment (before becoming homeless) than their counterparts who were not homeless.
  • “Homeless veterans were more likely to receive compensation for service-connected disabilities and have higher disability ratings.”

Former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced in November 2009 a plan to end homelessness among veterans in 2015. At the time, the number of affected veterans totaled nearly 75,000. In fiscal year 2014 alone, the VA committed over $1 billion in programs directed at the problem.

Since 2010, the number of homeless veterans has declined by 33 percent. Progress has been made, but 33 percent isn't 100 percent, it isn't even half-way to the goal. If the plan really is to end homelessness among veterans in 2015, there's a heck of a lot still to be done.


More like this

Here's a thought for "Veterans" Day: one out of nine people in the US is a veteran but one out of four homeless persons is a veteran. That's something for Americans to be proud of for sure. Support Our Troops is either just a slogan or they stop being worthy of support when they stop being cannon…
Hat tip to Majikthise and Steve Gilliard for bringing my attention to this article about vets from the Iraqi war becoming homeless after leaving the military. I'll quote just a little bit of the story from one returning Iraqi vet: A gunner's mate for 16 years, Arellano said he adjusted after…
In the first large-scale study of its kind, researchers report that sexual trauma is indeed a risk factor for suicide among military veterans and are calling on veteran health providers to continue including such trauma in suicide prevention strategies. Published in June in the American Journal of…
Today is Veterans Day in the U.S., and the Department of Veterans Affairs reminds us of the purpose: Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime.  In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans…

Shinseki's announcement is again more of the general processing of veterans through housing, medical care, or education. All of which, good. Although I am no Psychologist, I'm under the impression that a physical community for these veterans is a more sustainable solution to the PTSD issue.

I recall a NPR article: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/18/349326801/look-at-this-portrait-of-a-home…
Showcasing veterans and their stories. Establishment of a safe, physical space, I feel, is integral to their opening up and lamenting their issues.

Had I the capital, I'd propose an initiative where homeless vets pitch in together to build a house or condo using recycled or environmentally friendly materials obtained through grants/crowdfunding/donations to construct a physical space as a team where they will eventually live.

By Alex Chang (not verified) on 17 Nov 2014 #permalink

I have joined the program to help veterans, do you did so ?