Homeless veterans are men and women who have served in the armed forces living without access to secure and appropriate accommodation.
Many of these veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder that often occurs after extreme emotional trauma involving threat or injury. Causes of homelessness include:
- Disabilities - physical injury or mental illness
- Substance abuse - drug abuse or alcoholism
- Family breakdown
- Joblessness and poverty
- Lack of low cost housing
- Government policy
Estimates of the homeless population vary as these statistics are very difficult to obtain. The overall count in 2012 showed 62,619 homeless veterans in the United States of America. In January 2013, there were an estimated homeless veterans in the U.S., or 12% of the homeless population. Just under 8% are female. Gary Parker, Program Director at VVSD (Veterans Village of San Diego), estimates that "with the influx of veterans coming back from the current conflicts, we expect those numbers to rise."
Many programs and resources have been implemented across the United States in an effort to help homeless veterans. Among the prominent are:
- National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
- United States Department of Veteran Affairs
- United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
- The American Legion
- National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs
HUD-VASH, a housing voucher program by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Administration, gives out a certain number of Section 8 subsidized housing vouchers to eligible homeless and otherwise vulnerable US armed forces veterans.
Department of Veterans Affairs
On November 3, 2009, United States Secretary Eric K. Shinseki spoke at the National Summit on Homeless Veterans and announced his plan.
Along with President Obama, Shinseki outlined a comprehensive five-year plan to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs and its efforts. The plan focused on prevention of homelessness along with help for those living on the streets. The plan would expand mental health care and housing options for veterans, and would collaborate with:
- The Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development
- The Small Business Administration
- The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
- State directors of Veterans affairs
- Veteran Service Organizations
- National, state, and local social service providers and community groups
Shinseki emphasized the importance and impact of local initiatives and urged those present to lend a hand in this ongoing effort. He highlighted the need for improvements in:
In 2009, call centers were established in order to assist homeless veterans to gain assistance. As of December 2014, of the 79.5 thousand veterans who contacted the call center, 27% were unable to speak to a counselor, and 47% of referrals lead to no support services provided to the homeless veteran.
In a study published in the American Journal of Addiction, it found that there was indeed a link between both trauma of mental disorders that came upon the veterans studied and the substance abuse they partook in.
- Reeve Vanneman (1 March 2006). "Causes of homelessness". University of Maryland. http://www.vanneman.umd.edu/socy498/causes.html. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Alvaro Cortes; Meghan Henry; Abt Associates (November 2013). "The 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness". The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2012AHAR_PITestimates.pdf. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Meghan Henry; Dr. Alvaro Cortes; Abt Associates (2013). "The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress". The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/ahar-2013-part1.pdf. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- "Lessons Learned from the U.S. Department of Labor Grantees: Homeless Female Veterans & Homeless Veterans with Families". Syracuse Universit. October 2013. http://vets.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/NVTAC.Issue-Brief.FINAL_.Electronic.pdf. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- "Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki". United States Department of Veterans Affairs. 3 November 2009. http://www1.va.gov/opa/speeches/2009/09_1103.asp. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Kellan Howell (3 December 2014). "Despite first lady’s vow to end veteran homelessness, VA fails miserably". http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/3/despite-michelle-obamas-vow-to-end-veteran-homeles/?page=all#pagebreak. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
Lauren Gilger; Shawn Martin (11 December 2014). "VA ignoring homeless vets? Report finds hotline designed to help homeless vets often fails them". Phoenix, Arizona. http://www.abc15.com/news/local-news/investigations/va-ignoring-homeless-vets-report-finds-hotline-designed-to-help-homeless-vets-often-fails-them. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Edens, Ellen L.; Rosenheck, Robert A.; Kasprow, Wes; Tsai, Jack (11 August 2011). "Association of substance use and VA service-connected disability benefits with risk of homelessness among veterans.". American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. pp. 412–9. Digital object identifier:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2011.00166.x. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21838839.
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