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
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
- HUD-VA Supportive Housing Program which has allocated over 38,000 housing vouchers for veterans. These vouchers give them access to market-rate housing.
- VA Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program (HCHV). This program offers outreach, exams, treatment, referrals, and case management to homeless veterans who are dealing with mental health issues.
- Homeless Veteran Supported Employment Program (HVSEP). This program provides vocational assistance, job development, training, and placement, and ongoing support.
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:
- Unemployment Benefits After Separating from the Military.
- VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 – GI Bill for Unemployed Veterans.
- Veterans Retraining Assistance Program.
- Veterans Job Bank.
If you know any veterans in need of assistance, please help them find these resources.