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,…
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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 https://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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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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  1. David Scarberry says

    The numbers and solutions are very disturbing to me. I am a Vietnam Veteran (1967-1968) USAF Combat Security Police. Let me say one thing and only one thing “Contact me and I hope my ideas will at least help in some way the Veterans that want to participate. I have tried Congressmen, Senators and even small support groups. No response to even listen to these ideas. We all deserve better for our “Brothers.”My ideas will present resistance but I will not accept “no” because I believe it can be done. My father was a WWII and Korean Vet and brother was also a Marine Vietnam Vet.
    Thank you,
    David A. Scarberry Jr.

  2. Tony says

    Thank you for your informative article. Might I ask the references of the statistics on the percentage of different types of homeless vets? (67% served 3+ years, 47% Vietnam vets, etc.)

  3. J Martin says

    First, Thank You Sir for your service and dedication to the United States. My comment is about the Veterans who don’t have a service connected disability but are in need of other benefits such as Dental Work . I myself have need of this service but do not qualify due to the period of time that I was on active duty. It seems so unfair to categorize Veterans this way! Did we not serve our country as asked ? I’m in no way of faulting any Veteran, I just believe that the people who make policy should take a look at some things and perhaps see that a Veteran is a Veteran is a Veteran. The funding is not a problem because our Government waste more than enough on what I consider, stupid and ignorant things like studying what effects a bear pooping on concrete would do to the environment!! I’m using this as an example only. I know that monies are “Earmarked “ for things like this each year. Another thing is Why must each President spend the thousands of dollars to “Redecorate “ the White House when they take office? What a joke!!! I apologize to all Veterans for actions of our Leaders! They sure won’t say sorry so I’ll do it for them ! I’m nobody of importance, just a Veteran myself. Difference is “I” feel that I owe my Warrior Brothers and Sisters that courtesy! Thank You for allowing me to post my feelings here !! God Bless You and God Bless America!!

  4. 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

    • Ryan Guina 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 therefore, 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.

    • Michael Brown says

      I was a HUDVASH recipient in Redding, CA and was turned down by every landlord there. I am still homeless and I know quite a bit of other veterans who are homeless.

  5. Gordon 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.

    • Edward Q Page says

      We just passed a bipartisan bill, to continue funding for our first responders of 911. I have written the president, Mr. President Donald J Trump. I explained in great detail, the scourge, the plague, the potential epidemic of homelessness in America. Why did I write, because i was once a homeless Veteran! It’s a tragedy, its embarrassing, and disgraceful for anyone to be homeless, especially Vets!

  6. 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.

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