Despite the fact that veterans have made enormous sacrifices to fight for our freedom and protect our country, there is an alarmingly high number of homeless veterans in the United States. In fact, many studies show veterans to be one of the most vulnerable demographics in terms of their risk of becoming homeless.
The following post aims to educate its readers on the causes of homeless veterans, along with a list of resources for homeless veterans and veterans who face an increased risk of becoming homeless.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, here are some facts about veterans homelessness:
You may be wondering why such huge numbers of veterans are homeless, but there is no straight forward answer and only a series of potential explanations. One theory is that the US Government simply hasn’t done enough to effectively integrate veterans back into civilian society and help them find employment. Adjusting back to civilian life can be extremely difficult for veterans, and if an adequate support network and safety net isn’t provided, homelessness is certainly one potential result, but is that the only possible reason?
Another plausible explanation is that many homeless veterans suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) due to experiences they had while in the military. Gone untreated and depending on its severity, PTSD can make it extremely difficult to hold down a job, to live a normal life, or to transition out of the military support system and back into a more self-sufficient civilian lifestyle. Extreme PTSD almost certainly leads some veterans through a series of financial difficulties that ends up forcing them out of their homes and onto the streets.
Moreover, the economic recession of 2008 has also likely caused a significant increase in veteran homelessness. Millions of Americans lost their jobs due to the recession and veterans certainly weren’t spared from the economic fallout. Other than the unemployment benefits that are available to most laid off Americans, there are few unique benefits available to veterans that become unemployed. Many veterans have been forced into homelessness simply by the sluggish economy, job loss, and the inability to secure a new line of work.
Many efforts are being made by the US Government and non-profits to combat the problem of veterans homelessness. One of the most substantial projects launched to help put Veterans back into the workforce is being lead by the US Chamber of Commerce and called the “Hiring Our Heroes” campaign. Hiring Our Heroes seeks to find steady employment prospects for Vets, bringing homeless Vets off the streets and preventing those at risk of becoming homeless from doing so.
The Department of Labor also recently announced that $15 million dollars is to be invested into helping homeless veterans, in an attempt to reach President Obama’s goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. The Department of Labor aims to use this money to provide 8,600 homeless veterans with job training programs to help them find steady work. Although these may seem like small steps, they are being made in the right direction, and will hopefully help both reduce the numbers of homeless vets, as well as prevent even more veterans from becoming homeless in the future.
Here’s a list of resources aimed at helping homeless veterans and veterans that are at risk of becoming homeless:
Make The Connection
Make The Connection is a veterans advocacy site that provides helpful information and links to resources for every type of veteran. Their site also has a dedicated section for homeless veterans, which provides statistics, resources, success stories and information on how to get help.
Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America or VOA is a non-profit that provides housing to homeless veterans and also help with finding employment. Veterans can use this site to navigate where their nearest VOA offices are and how they can receive help.
Project Foot or Project of our Troops is a charity that aims to help military families and also help get homeless veterans off the streets and back into the workforce. Veterans can apply for their services and benefits directly on the site here.
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans or NCHV provides a wealth of information and resources for homeless veterans and for veterans that are at risk of becoming homeless. One of the main services this Coalition offers is employment assistance which provides assistance to homeless veterans looking to get back on their feet by gaining new jobs.
U.S. Vets or the United States Veterans Initiative is a non-profit organization whose mission is to successfully transition veterans back into the workforce and civilian life. Services available to homeless veterans include housing, employment assistance, job placement and counseling.
If you’re a homeless veteran, are at risk of becoming homeless or are simply looking for ways to help a veteran friend or family member, please utilize all of the resources listed in this post.
Remember you are not alone, many thousands of veterans are in the same situation as you, and you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help. The resources are out there, so make sure you use them to your full advantage.