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My Home is Everywhere: Homeless Veterans’ Problem in the USA

When you’re a military veteran, some people think that you’re well off. This isn’t a surprising assumption considering that, as of December 2017, an unmarried war vet without any dependents and has an annual income of $5,000 should be able to get an $8,166 pension per year or $680.50 every month.

Although some were able to take advantage of this program, statistics revealed that the number of retired military personnel who don’t have permanent residence or are living in the streets is still at an alarming level.

Homeless Vets: What the Numbers Indicate

Citing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) said that retired army personnel who live on the streets or in shelters are mostly male, with only 9 percent of the total sub-population being women.

To be more specific, the organization put the demographics of homeless veterans to be single men who reside in urban areas and suffer from mental disorders and substance abuse. The group also said that many of these war vets have co-occurring conditions.

As of their most recent research in 2017, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revealed that some 40,056 vets are homeless “on a single night,” comprising 11 percent of the total adult homeless population in the United States. This number includes both sheltered and unsheltered men and women who formerly served in the military, one way or another.

Although this number is slightly lower than the 62,619 homeless veterans recorded five years ago by the same agency, the fact remains that the problem of homeless veterans has yet to be resolved.

Out of more than 40,000 displaced war vets in 2017, some 15,366 find themselves roaming the streets, uncertain of what will happen next. Unlike their comrades who were housed in emergency shelters or transition homes, these people who dedicated their lives — their prime years, for some — to fighting battles to keep the country safe and secure are now in dire need of our help.

VA Programs for Homeless Veterans

Because of these flabbergasting numbers, the U.S. government has reached a certain level of awareness of the dilemma. In fact, the VA came up with several programs to send aid to these displaced heroes.

The most recent one of these projects revolve around assistance being granted to war vets in finding stable jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Based on the VA’s official website, the VAMC Homeless Team in Charleston, South Carolina helped 17 veterans switch from homelessness to having stable jobs that will be their sources of funds as well as stability.

Staying true to their tag-line “No veteran should be without a place to call home,” the VA proactively seeks veterans who need assistance not only in finding shelter but also in transitioning from their broken state after going into battle into a healthy and functioning member of the society.

Aside from employment and housing aids, the VA also offers homeless vets with health care, mental wellness support, among others.

Want to Take Part? Here’s What You Can Do

Although it is the government leaders’ job to keep their constituents healthy, happy, and thriving, you can also do something to help. After all, war veterans fought not just for the country but for your safety as well.

The NCHV provided some guidelines on what steps average citizens like you can do to help keep our war heroes off the streets and into their much-deserved better life:

  • Know what the community requires.

While there may be universal issues that involve retired military workers in your place, every community has different situations they deal with. Because of this, it is best to begin your search for homeless veteran service providers within the vicinity of your home as they would know what course you can take to help.

You may also look for organizations that need volunteers using this NCHV database.

  • Reach out to others.

Two heads are better than one. In this case, many people working together can make solving the problem a lot easier. If you aren’t already part of an organization that tackles homelessness of war heroes, you can use your connections to seek out people who are interested in the same cause.

It should be easy now that the Internet and social media has made it possible to cross even the vast seas without leaving the comforts of your home.

  • Join homeless coalitions in your locality.

When you’re doing a good deed, it is wise to start at home. Although there is a good chance that there is at least one in your city, you should be able to start one with the right motivation and resources.

  • Seek assistance from your elected leaders.

They were chosen to wield both power and responsibility through majority vote. Since people have placed their faith in the elected leaders, you should put yours too.

Seek out elected officials and ask them what the local government is doing to improve the situation of homeless veterans in your neighborhood.

There is still a lot of room we need to cover, so we need as many hands on deck as possible. Join the Long Ride Home and restore our war heroes’ pride by putting them in their rightful and well-deserved homes.

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