has a ten year history of helping homeless veterans and others in need. Help Us… Help Them.
Who are homeless veterans?
According to The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there are about 154,000 homeless veterans on a typical night in America.
Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Only 7% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly 13% of the homeless adult population are veterans. Nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, (300,000 in all), report symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) or major depression, yet only slightly more than half have sought treatment, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
This new generation of combat veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (OIF-OEF), both men and women, also suffer from other war related conditions including traumatic brain injuries, which put them at risk for homelessness. The evolving gender mix of the military — women represent 15% of the military population — poses new challenges for the nation’s support system for returning veterans and their families. Women veterans report serious trauma histories and episodes of physical harassment and/or sexual assault while in the military. The VA and homeless veteran service providers are also seeing increased numbers of female and male veterans with children seeking their assistance.
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.
Doesn’t VA take care of homeless veterans?
In a United States Department of Defense Press Release on November 3, 2009 – The Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced the framework of a bold initiative to end homelessness among veterans within five years.
Former VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki outlined the comprehensive plan to an audience of VA officials, other government representatives and private-sector homeless outreach organizers at the VA National Summit Ending Homelessness Among Veterans here. He called the goal an ambitious one that will take a nationwide COLLABORATIVE EFFORT to be successful.
Said former Secretary Shinseki, “Also, VA will spend more than $3 billion specifically to reduce homelessness, the majority of which is dedicated to medical services, and the remainder — about $500 million — on homeless programs, Shinseki said. He added that VA and the Defense Department officially joined forces last week to improve mental health care among servicemembers and veterans.”
“The psychological wounds of war affect every generation of veterans,” he said. “We know if we diagnose and treat, people usually get better. If we don’t, they won’t, and sometimes their problems become debilitating. We understand the stigma issue, but we are not going to be dissuaded. We are not giving up on any of our veterans with mental health challenges — definitely not the homeless.”
The former secretary also talked about housing for homeless veterans, describing the VA’s initiative launched last month to award more than $17 million in grants to create more than 1,100 beds for homeless veterans. The transitional housing will allow “those who slip through our safety nets” to leverage access to VA health care and other benefits, he said. VA officials expect roughly 20,000 veterans to take part in this program this year.
Each year, VA’s specialized homelessness programs provide health care to almost 150,000 homeless veterans and other services to more than 112,000 veterans. Additionally, more than 40,000 homeless veterans receive compensation or pension benefits each month. Other government agencies are also providing support. However, there are many in need who… Fall through the cracks!
What seems to work best?
Since 1987, VA’s programs for homeless veterans have emphasized collaboration with community service providers to help expand services to more veterans in crisis.
According to The National Coalition For Homeless Veterans, the most effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit groups.
Government money, while important, is limited, and available services are often at capacity. It is critical, therefore, that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities that most Americans take for granted.
NROTC is doing all we can to COLLABORATE WITH THE VA and other government agencies, to reach out and help, to the best of our ability, ANY VETERAN in need!
Celebrating Over A Decade of Service