The Most Tragic Issue Facing Our U.S. Veterans

Our homeless Veterans transitioning from military to civilian lifestyle are now in search of the very peace they provided for all Americans, having a place to call home is the first step towards healing. One of the most tragic issues today happening in our own back yards involves the displacement of our beloved U.S.Veterans. Men and Women who have served our great nation, sacrificing life and limb, are assimilating back into civilian lifestyles after years of military service. Many American Vets are jobless, homeless, and some suffering health and abandonment issues.

Why are veterans homeless?

In addition to the complex set of factors influencing all homelessness – extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care – a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks. Additionally, military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment.

A top priority for homeless veterans is secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment free of drugs and alcohol.

America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.

About 1.4 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. U.S. Veterans account for 23 percent of the homeless population, and 33 percent of homeless men nationwide.

This year during the President Donald Trump Administration, the S. 1072 Bill was introduced on May 9, 2017, protecting our homeless veterans. (see link below)

The reflection of homeless Veterans
during the past Administrations

Estimates of the homeless population vary as these statistics are difficult to obtain, in 2007, the first veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom- Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom began to be documented in homeless shelters. By 2009, there were 154,000 homeless, with slightly less than half having served in South Vietnam, according to the VA in 2011, veterans made up 14% of homeless adult males, and 2% of homeless adult females, and both groups were over represented within the homeless population compared to the general population. The overall count in 2012 showed 62,619 homeless veterans in the U.S. In January 2013, there were an estimated 57,849 homeless veterans in the U.S. or 12% of the homeless population. Just under 8% were female. In July 2014, the largest population of homeless veterans, lived in Los Angeles County, with there being over 6,000 homeless veterans, out of the total estimated 54,000 homeless within that area. In 2015, a report issued by HUD counted over 47,000 homeless veterans nationwide, the majority of whom were white and male. In 2016, there were over 39,000 homeless veterans nationwide.

Many programs and resources have been implemented across the United States in an effort to help homeless veterans. Among the prominent are:

*  National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
*  United States Department of Veteran Affairs
*  United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
*  The American Legion
*  The Center for American Homeless Veterans
*  National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs

HUD-VASH, a housing voucher program by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Administration, gives out a certain number of Section 8 subsidized housing vouchers to eligible homeless and otherwise vulnerable U.S. armed forces veterans.

Here are 10 statistics you might not know about veteran homelessness:

1. Declining Homelessness
The number of homeless veterans in America was estimated at 49,933 in January 2014, The Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. That was a decline by 33 percent, or 24,837 people, from 2010 due to national efforts to deal with the problem.

2. Gender
Veteran homelessness is mostly faced by returning male vets, but females make up about eight percent of homeless vets.

3. Minorities
About 40 percent of homeless vets are African American or Hispanic, African Americans account for just over 10 percent of the veteran population while Hispanics represent less than four percent of vets in the United States.

4. Age
Some 50 percent of homeless vets are between the ages of 18 and 50, whereas less than 30 percent of all veterans are between 18 and 50. More than 40 percent of homeless vets are between ages 31 and 50.

5. Service
About one-third of homeless veterans were stationed in a war zone at some time. Two-thirds of homeless vets served their country for at least three years.

6. Risk
Poverty, lack of support from groups or networks, and substandard housing put about 1.4 million veterans at risk for homelessness.

7. Compensation
More than 40,000 homeless vets receive compensation or pension benefits each month, but that’s not enough to find affordable housing, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Many vets have skills learned through the military that are not applicable for occupations in civilian life.

8. Likelihood
Returning veterans are twice as likely to become chronically homeless as other Americans, Women veterans are four times as likely to become homeless as male veterans.

9. Disabilities
More than 50 percent of homeless veterans suffer from disabilities. About two-thirds of them have substance abuse issues.

10. Duration
Veteran homelessness affects vets for nearly six years on average, compared to four years on average among non-veterans.

The Veterans Crisis Line Website

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

Susan Price is a National Gold Star Mother and resides in the Suburban Western New York area. The daughter of a Marine, and Army Veteran, She is also the Mother of a Fallen American Hero, Gunnery Sgt, Aaron Michael Kenefick a highly decorated and stellar Marine of over twelve years. The tragic loss of Susan’s son and his Marine Embedded Training Team, raised more questions than answers. It was through a Mother’s undying love, that Susan transformed into an Investigative Researcher, and through her countless hours, days, weeks and years connecting the dots, factual documentation, eyewitness accounts and more, emerged a back story to the crimes that took place on the battlefield that fateful day of September 8th 2009. Susan is also known as a Veterans Advocate and a National voice. She has appeared on 60 Minutes, and other national media as well as and Patriot radio. Having worked with various Congressmen concerning our Military and Veterans, she has been sought out by many as the “the Gold Star Mother with a voice” – and “go to person”.