Location

By Location Alaska Albuquerque Allentown Amsterdam Anaheim Anchorage Ann Arbor Atlanta Austin Baton Rouge Bend Binghamton Boston Boulder Canada Cardiff Charlotte Chatsworth Chicago Chippenham Cleveland Columbia SC Columbus Dallas Denver Des Moines Detroit Edmonton Eugene Fayetteville Fort McMurray Fredericton Gainesville Glendale Great Falls Greensboro Harbor City Harrisburg Hawaii Hawthorne Hollywood Honolulu houston Ithaca Kalkaska Kelowna Koreatown Las Vegas Lima London London (Canada) Los Angeles Louisville Manchester Miami Minneapolis/St Paul Montreal Nashville New Orleans New York City Nickelsville Norway Oakland Ocala Oslo Ottawa Oxford Paradise Pasadena Peru Philadelphia Phoenix Pine Ridge Pittsburgh Portland Reseda Sacramento Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco San Jose San Luis Obispo Santa Monica Saskatoon Seattle Shawnee Skid Row Springfield St John's St Louis St. Petersburg Syracuse Tacoma Tampa Toronto Traverse City Tulsa United Kingdom Vancouver Venice Beach Vermont Victoria Wales Washington DC Wentzville Westwood Wichita Wilmington Winnipeg Yellowknife By topic Addiction Advocacy Affordable housing Art and Music Awareness Charity Cold Weather College Students Community Involvement Coronavirus Couch Surfing Couple Criminalization Data Disabled Divorce Domestic violence Drug testing Education Employment Eviction Ex-convict Faith based Families Family conflict Female Financial crisis Foster care Harm reduction Health care HIV/AIDS Homeless count Homeless deaths Hostels (UK shelters) Hotels Housing First HUD Human trafficking Identification Incarceration Indigenous Invisible People Invisible Stories Job loss K2/Spice (Synthetic Marijuana) LGBT Libraries Lived Experience Male Mental illness Mobile Homeless Natural disasters NIMBY Outreach Panhandling Peer Support Pets Poverty Pregnant PTSD Public Feeding Racism Recycling Relationships Research Rural Schools Seniors Sex Offenders Sex Worker Shelters Single Parent Social Media Social Security Socks Solutions Street Soccer Survival sex System Failure Systems Change Technology Tent Cities Tiny Homes Transgender Travelers Veteran Vietnam Veteran Violence Waiting list Welfare Working poor Youth EVENTS @home contests PBS road trip road trip 2009 road trip 2010 road trip 2011 road trip 2013 to fight youth homelessness sober birthday campaign SXSW TEDx INTERVIEWS Learn More Canadian Homelessness Coronavirus and Homelessness Criminalization of Homelessness Family Homelessness Homeless Seniors Homeless Veterans Homeless Youth Homelessness Mobile Homelessness Panhandling Tent Encampments U.K. Homelessness MISCELLANEOUS 360 video Awards Cause Marketing Dream Center Gates Foundation Google Glass Media Patreon Tribute World Trade Center YouTube More Updates

topic

By Location Alaska Albuquerque Allentown Amsterdam Anaheim Anchorage Ann Arbor Atlanta Austin Baton Rouge Bend Binghamton Boston Boulder Canada Cardiff Charlotte Chatsworth Chicago Chippenham Cleveland Columbia SC Columbus Dallas Denver Des Moines Detroit Edmonton Eugene Fayetteville Fort McMurray Fredericton Gainesville Glendale Great Falls Greensboro Harbor City Harrisburg Hawaii Hawthorne Hollywood Honolulu houston Ithaca Kalkaska Kelowna Koreatown Las Vegas Lima London London (Canada) Los Angeles Louisville Manchester Miami Minneapolis/St Paul Montreal Nashville New Orleans New York City Nickelsville Norway Oakland Ocala Oslo Ottawa Oxford Paradise Pasadena Peru Philadelphia Phoenix Pine Ridge Pittsburgh Portland Reseda Sacramento Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco San Jose San Luis Obispo Santa Monica Saskatoon Seattle Shawnee Skid Row Springfield St John's St Louis St. Petersburg Syracuse Tacoma Tampa Toronto Traverse City Tulsa United Kingdom Vancouver Venice Beach Vermont Victoria Wales Washington DC Wentzville Westwood Wichita Wilmington Winnipeg Yellowknife By topic Addiction Advocacy Affordable housing Art and Music Awareness Charity Cold Weather College Students Community Involvement Coronavirus Couch Surfing Couple Criminalization Data Disabled Divorce Domestic violence Drug testing Education Employment Eviction Ex-convict Faith based Families Family conflict Female Financial crisis Foster care Harm reduction Health care HIV/AIDS Homeless count Homeless deaths Hostels (UK shelters) Hotels Housing First HUD Human trafficking Identification Incarceration Indigenous Invisible People Invisible Stories Job loss K2/Spice (Synthetic Marijuana) LGBT Libraries Lived Experience Male Mental illness Mobile Homeless Natural disasters NIMBY Outreach Panhandling Peer Support Pets Poverty Pregnant PTSD Public Feeding Racism Recycling Relationships Research Rural Schools Seniors Sex Offenders Sex Worker Shelters Single Parent Social Media Social Security Socks Solutions Street Soccer Survival sex System Failure Systems Change Technology Tent Cities Tiny Homes Transgender Travelers Veteran Vietnam Veteran Violence Waiting list Welfare Working poor Youth EVENTS @home contests PBS road trip road trip 2009 road trip 2010 road trip 2011 road trip 2013 to fight youth homelessness sober birthday campaign SXSW TEDx INTERVIEWS Learn More Canadian Homelessness Coronavirus and Homelessness Criminalization of Homelessness Family Homelessness Homeless Seniors Homeless Veterans Homeless Youth Homelessness Mobile Homelessness Panhandling Tent Encampments U.K. Homelessness MISCELLANEOUS 360 video Awards Cause Marketing Dream Center Gates Foundation Google Glass Media Patreon Tribute World Trade Center YouTube More Updates

1.5 Million American Veterans are at Risk of Homelessness Right Now

veterans at risk of homelessness

When the US military advertises on TV, what they sell is a dream. The viewer sees a fantastical adventure unfolding before their very eyes. It is one where freedom fighters take death-defying leaps of faith, where fighter jets burst through the skies, where soldiers emerge from billows of smoke and march together while drums of victory beat softly in the background.

And through these commercials and in-person recruitment ads, they aren’t just offered a pair of boots and a firearm. They’re offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take on a whole new identity. This new identity comes complete with a salary, a seemingly free education, and the chance to be a national hero embarking on an epic journey.

We all know the cold reality is much harsher. Soldiers are in wars, not adventures. The events they participate in are likely to mark them for a lifetime, for better or worse. And when they return home from the battlefield, in place of victory music and salutes, they will be greeted with an increased vulnerability to homelessness.

Who Are the 1.5 Million Veterans Facing Homelessness Today?

At this very moment, 1.5 million American war veterans face the very real possibility of falling into homelessness in the near future. This is not to mention those vets whose fate has already been sealed, whose new foxhole is a broken-down vehicle in a dimly lit Walmart parking lot or a corner off the beaten path in an unfamiliar city. To truly empathize with their plight, we must attempt to know them. We must understand how they got here, and the role we all played in their dire situation.

A couple of recent studies set their sights on identifying who was most likely to join the military and why. Current opinion primarily comprises of stereotypical information. Liberal-leaning thinkers are more likely to see soldiers as enlisting out of desperation for finances and/or education. Meanwhile, conservative citizens envision the reason as selfless and community-driven.

In the end, neither camp is exactly right. Instead, about 47% of respondents cited a love of country or sense of duty. Roughly 43% cited the possibility of financial and/or educational gains. Most surprising was the fact that the bulk of people who join the military hail from middle-class backgrounds. They often enlist at the behest of a family member who previously served.

Now we have a clearer picture of who winds up on the battlefield and why. This is a person from an average earning family who feels inspired to follow a family member’s footsteps they view as a hero. Perhaps they enter the militia with a sense of duty, an heir of patriotism, a need for finances and education, or all of the above. What they probably don’t expect is to return home more vulnerable to homelessness than ever before.

How the Number of Vulnerable Veterans was Computed

At least 1.5 million American veterans fit one or more of the following criteria:

  • Paying more than 50% of earnings in rent (this condition is known as severe rent burden)
  • They are unemployed or underemployed
  • They severely lack the familial support necessary to sustain them in a post-war environment

This doesn’t even take into account the number of veterans who are paying more than 30% of their salary in rental costs, which is the lower end of the rent burden spectrum. Veteran unemployment remains worrisome even as the numbers dip because the stats still reflect a higher rate of unemployment now than in the years leading up to the pandemic when veteran homelessness had already begun to lapse.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, About 75% of this Community’s Needs Are not Being Filled

For those veterans who are already enduring the harsh reality of living unhoused, the VA suggests only 25% of their needs are being met. This leaves 75% of those needs unfilled, a number that would only increase if more veterans become homeless.

Research regarding specific needs for homelessness amongst individuals who have been in active service is greatly lacking. We know that stress-inducing elements of combat can have adverse effects on quality of life indefinitely. It is unclear how much of veteran homelessness is the result of PTSD and how much of it stems from other factors that are common to veterans and non-veterans alike.

In the years leading up to the pandemic, we as a nation saw a statistically significant decline in veteran homelessness. However, that trend is sadly being reversed. Evidence of this is in the current veteran point in time count and the number of soldiers and former soldiers at risk of becoming homeless in the near future.

For those readers who ascribe to the “bootstrap theory” (i.e., the idea that homeless people need only pull themselves up by their bootstraps), how do you feel about the number of military boots winding up on the sidewalks of random street corners each night?

Imagine the horror of going from a tent in a foxhole to a tent on a curb, then from a tent on a curb to a cell in prison, and reliving that nightmare over again; all because you wanted to serve your country, or you wanted an education, or you wanted to follow in the family hero’s footsteps! Please contact your representatives and let them know how disappointed you are to hear that approximately 1.5 million veterans are now at risk of falling into homelessness.


Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith

     

Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

Related Topics



Your support can create amazing change

Join the campaign to end homelessness by supporting the only newsroom focused solely on the topic of homelessness. Our original reporting — posted five to seven days a week — can also be found on Apple News and Google News. Through storytelling, education, news, and advocacy, we are changing the narrative on homelessness.

Invisible People is a nonprofit organization. We rely on the support of friends like you — people who understand that well-written, carefully researched stories can change minds about this issue. And that’s what leads to true transformation and policy change. Our writers have their fingers on the pulse of homeless communities. Many are formerly or currently homeless themselves. They are the real experts, passionate about ending homelessness. Your support helps us tell the true story of this crisis and solutions that will end it. Your donations help make history by telling the real story of homelessness to inspire tangible actions to end it.

Your donation, big or small, will help bring real change.

DONATE NOW



Get the Invisible People newsletter


RECENT STORIES

homeless man in austin

Martin

Los Angeles Homeless Woman Lost Her Legs to Frostbite

Monica

homeless man in austin

David

Disabled Homeless Mom

Cori and her daughter


RECENT ARTICLES

yukon housing

What’s Fueling the Yukon’s Housing Crisis?

Craig Newmark Philanthropies

Craig Newmark Philanthropies Awards Invisible People $50,000 Grant

shelters are not for everyone

Shelters Aren’t Right For Everyone

family homelessness

Family Homelessness: A Gateway to Generational Trauma

Get the Invisible People newsletter