Homeless Veterans in America [Infographic]

America is proud of her veterans. That much we know. Our country does a lot for those who have worn the uniform and swore to defend our freedom. But sometimes people, even veterans fall through the cracks. There are over 630,000 homeless people in America. 67,495 are veterans. It amazes me that in today’s society, over 1 in 10 homeless people in America are veterans.

There are a variety of reasons for such a large percentage of homeless being veterans.

Studies show that the veteran population is 2x more likely to become chronically homeless than other American groups. There are many reasons veterans make up such a large percentage of the homeless population. Contributing factors include long periods of unemployment, foreclosure, mental illness, and poverty.

Here are some numbers to back up the contributing factors:

  • Over 968,000 veterans lived in poverty in the last year.
  • 20,000 veterans with government sponsored mortgages lost their homes in 2010.
  • 76% of homeless veterans experience alcohol, drug, or mental health issues.
    30.2% of veterans ages 18-24 are unemployed.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions, but we shouldn’t. Here is some surprising information about homeless veterans:

  • 89% received an honorable discharge.
  • 67% served 3 years or more.
  • 47% are Vietnam veterans
  • 15% served before Vietnam
  • 5.5% are Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Almost 9 out of 10 received an honorable discharge. 2 out of 3 served at least 3 years. Those stats should be enough to know these veterans did heir job honorably and likely performed at a reasonably high level.

Let’s take a deeper look at the population of homeless veterans in the following infographic, and below, we will show you some of the things that are being done to help the community.

Shedding Light on America’s Homeless Veterans

Shedding Light on America's Homeless Veterans

Infographic brought to you by USC’s Masters in Military Social Work Program and Social Work License Map

What is Being Done to Help America’s Homeless Veterans?

The issue of homeless veterans has been on the government’s radar for some time now.

In 2009, President Obama and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced an initiative by the federal government announced a plan to end veteran homelessness by 2015. You can learn more about this at http://www.endhomelessness.org/

The Department of Veterans Affairs also has some other programs helping homeless veterans. These include the

There are a variety of other benefits programs out there for all veterans, not just those who are homeless. These programs can go a long way toward helping veterans before they lose their homes and end up on the street. Some of these include:

If you know any veterans in need of assistance, please help them find these resources.

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Date published: December 10, 2012.

Article by

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is currently serving in the IL Air National Guard. He also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google.


  1. David says

    I didn’t know the numbers where quite so bad Ryan. I recently read ‘Start Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle’ which pointed the difference with how veterans are prepared for civilian life after mandatory service is complete. They aren’t without their problems but it seems that the soldiers are trained to be much more entrepreneurial and (more importantly) employers look very highly on experience gained through military service.

  2. says

    I work for a defense contractor and have been involved in the Wounded Warrior project since my company is a major sponsor. My borther is in the military and served two tours to Iraq so it really brings it all home for me. Thank you for raising awareness, I will definitely RT this article.

  3. Ms. Nissa R. Lapointe says

    First of all Ryan thank you for your service and I am glad I found your website, very informative. Just curious if the statistics that the census has gathered for the VA and HUD is fact. Here’s why- From my experience as a former homeless Veteran and a National Homeless Veteran Advocate(not affiliated with any agency, corp, biz, group, company, or other), there are many homeless Veterans that get turned away from shelters and missions(that these numbers were taken from), also during my outreach time, I have not found any homeless Veterans that will approach you and identify themselves as Veterans, they need to get to know you before they tell you anything. Can death be a possible contributing factor to the fall of the homeless Veteran population? There are alot of homeless individuals and people facing homelessness due to all the factors you have stated, its hard for me to really trust that out of all of the homeless population, that there are only 67,000. There is definately an increase of returning Iraqi Veterans living on the streets. I think ultimately, if they were to check the shadows of the streets, their numbers would actually be alot higher. Just my thoughts, my opinion. Nissa R. Lapointe Disabled USAF/Prior Army Veterans and National Homeless Veteran Advocate, based out of Atlanta, GA

    • says

      Nissa, To be honest, I have no idea how these numbers are determined, but in my opinion, it is probably impossible to have an absolute number for any form of homelessness. The reasons you mentioned all apply, and by nature, homelessness is a transient condition. Some people are in and out of homelessness, while others are mobile, and there fore, difficult to account for. At the end of the day though, I think having a rough number is good to impress upon the VA, government, and other agencies the seriousness of the issue, and hopefully help veterans and other homeless people the assistance they need. We can’t force people to take the benefits, but we can make them available.

      Thanks for your service and continued work for the veteran and homeless population.

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