Why Are Veterans Homeless in the U.S.?
It is hard to imagine a veteran homeless in America, yet it happens. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), homeless veterans are predominately single males who live in urban areas and are experiencing mental health and/or alcohol and substance use challenges. Homeless veterans in America have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Veterans are often faced with many obstacles when they return to civilian life that put them at risk for homelessness including difficulties finding affordable housing and earning a livable income. Many of homeless veterans suffer from mental health challenges, drug and/or alcohol abuse, or co-occurring disorders, the most frequent of which is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to experiences before and during their service. According to a Pentagon report, the rate of sexual assault within the military has quadrupled since 2006.
To prevent veterans from experiencing homelessness, coordinated efforts providing housing, basic health care needs, and mental health counseling are necessary. Job training and placement assistance is also crucial to veterans who can be at a disadvantage when competing for employment when their military occupations and training are not transferable to the civilian workforce.