Homelessness isn’t exclusive to veterans, but it’s more common among the demographic. There are 39,400 homeless veterans in the U.S., some of which are chronically homeless. This means that they’ve experiences homelessness for a year or longer or have experienced four episodes of homelessness in the last three years. There are correlations between chronic homelessness and behavioral health problems, mental illness, substance use disorders, physical illness, injury and trauma. It has been proven that the only effective solution to fight chronic homelessness is permanent, supportive housing that can help them rehabilitate.
Not only is helping homeless veterans a morally good thing to do, it’s also an economically smart decision. The homeless population require expensive public services, like shelters, prisons, and emergency rooms.
Another organization that helps homeless veterans is the VA. They aid in coordinating outreach to seek out Veterans in need of assistance, connecting those in need with solutions and collaborating with other organizations (federal, state, local) to expand employment and affordable housing options for homeless veterans. Every year, the VA provides healthcare to nearly 150,000 homeless veterans. Other services are offered to 112,00 veterans, including compensation or pensions benefits each month (offered to 40,000). According to the NationalCoalition for Homeless Veterans, “the VA, using its own resources or in partnership with others, has secured nearly 15,000 residential rehabilitative and transitional beds and more than 30,000 permanent beds for homeless veterans throughout the nation”.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, most veterans who are homeless tend to be male (91%), single, living in urban areas and suffering from mental illness (like PTSD). Substance abuse and co-occurring disorders are also common among the homeless. Eleven percent of the adult homeless population are veterans, and 45% of all homeless veterans are black or Hispanic (despite only making up 10.4% and 3.4% of the U.S. veteran population respectively). It’s estimates that there are 39,400 veterans who are homeless on any given night. Those who qualify as a ‘homeless veteran’ are those who served in WWII, The Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf Warm Afghanistan, Iraq, and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. On top of these homeless veterans, there are 1.4 million other veterans who are at risk of homelessness due to poverty, poor living conditions and lack of support networks.
Causes of Veteran Homelessness
The primary causes for veteran homelessness are a lack of affordable housing and health care. Plus, many veterans live with PTSD, a condition that may prevent them from keeping a job. Alcohol abuse is also to blame. Worst of all, skills learned in the military are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, making it harder for them to compete for employment. Homelessness can be cause by multiple factors, including outside expenses. These expenses are particularly prevalent downtown in cities, where more homeless benefits are offered. Homeless people may be dealing with public transportation expenses and health care as well. In Kansas City specifically, homelessness is attributed to long-term unemployment, a lack of affordable housing units, and decreased social service agency funds. There’s a new plan in place to reduce homelessness by identifying homeless camps and teaching them about the services available to them. Another great organization in the KC are is the Veterans CommunityProject. They support homeless veterans by building groups of tiny homes (transitional housing) for the homeless veterans in the area. The great part is that when a veteran moves out of the home, they get to keep everything that’s in it. That includes the fridge, bed, towels, etc. The organization was created by a group of Veterans and is a 501 (c)(3) Missouri nonprofit corporation.
How to Help
Making veterans aware of the organizations that provide aid to veterans is the first step to combatting this epidemic. There are several out there, including our own Cameron Veterans Home, that provide assisted living for veterans that really need it. You can donate to these organizations or volunteer your time. Plus, you can join a local homeless or coalition or start one if there isn’t one already established in your community. Reaching out to your elected officials to see what’s being done to combat the issue can also be a great idea. Make sure that veterans are being provided with secure housing, nutritional meals, health care, rehabilitations and mental health counseling. Job assessments and training give homeless veterans the long-term skills they need to survive, so see how your business can help. The most effective efforts have been made through organizations created by veterans for veterans. These community-based, nonprofit organizations may help with transitional housing or creating substance-free environments.
Make a Donation
If you would like to provide assistance to veterans, donate tothe Cameron Veterans Home Assistance League today!