U.S. Homeless Veterans
In a country that is known as being the “home of the brave,” why is it that so many of our nation’s veterans—the truly brave—are left without homes when they come back from service? Out of over 600,000 homeless adults in the U.S. today, more than 10 percent are veterans. Back in 2009, the Obama administration promised to end veteran homelessness by 2015. Although this goal has not been entirely met, several cities and two entire states in the country announced as of this last March that they have met an end to veteran homelessness. The two states are Virginia and Connecticut. New Orleans, LA was the first large city to achieve this goal. Salt Lake City, Utah and Phoenix, Arizona are close to as well. Here is more information on the 2016 budget fact sheet.
Causes of Veteran Homelessness
Several veterans suffer from physical, emotional, or mental disabilities that make it difficult to maintain reliable income necessary to own a home and buy other necessities. Some also suffer from substance abuse, which is often made worse by a lack of strong social support and family networks. In fact, over 27 percent of the homeless veteran population suffers from physical illness, mental illness, and substance abuse all at once (tri-morbid).
Another factor that contributes to the number of homeless veterans is the fact that many military job qualifications do not transfer well to civilian jobs. Many veterans find it difficult to assimilate themselves into civilian workplaces or adjust to society after they have left the armed forces.
From a more commercial standpoint, a lack of affordable housing is also a huge factor. Even veterans that have a steady income are not making enough to afford housing in many areas. This leaves them homeless for a period of time. Strict requirements for mortgage loan approval also contribute to difficulty obtaining proper housing.
When considering veteran homelessness, we have to also consider that 1.4 million veterans in the U.S., though not homeless yet, are at risk for homelessness due to many of the same causes.