Veterans experience a distinct set of challenges, both during service and upon their return, which preset obstacles when trying to tackle veteran homelessness.
Amongst veterans there are high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and sexual trauma, which can lead to higher risks of homelessness. Additionally, many veterans are considered at risk of homelessness because of poverty, lack of support from family and friends, substance use or mental health issues, and precarious living conditions.
WHY IS VETERAN HOMELESSNESS A PRIORITY?
Approximately 144,000 veterans are homeless on any given night according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Within this number, the amount of female Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experiencing homelessness is increasing, as is the number who have dependent children. In response to this, the Unites States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) has made ending homelessness for Veterans a priority for the next five years with a five-point strategy that includes:
- Providing Affordable Housing
- Providing Permanent Supportive Housing
- Increasing Meaningful and Sustainable Employment
- Reducing Financial Vulnerability
- Transforming Homeless Services to Crisis Response Systems
There is some evidence that programs which recognize and acknowledge veteran experiences may be more successful in helping homeless veterans transition into stable housing. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) suggests that the most effective programs are “community-based, nonprofit, ‘veterans helping veterans’ groups”. However, it is critical for community groups and concerned individuals to reach out to help provide veterans with support as well.
NCH works to promote the comprehensive and integrated treatment needs of homeless persons within the context of health reform and we support effective implementation of Medicaid expansion for people living in or near poverty. Content courtesy NationalHomeless.org