When a veteran comes back from serving his or her country, they shouldn’t have to worry about anything, but one of the major problems plaguing American veterans is homelessness. The majority of homeless veterans are single males from disadvantaged communities across the US. It should also be noted that veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless due to poverty, lack of support networks, and horrible living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
The majority of homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon. The Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, and in South America helping with the anti-drug efforts.
For some veterans, one of the main factors that lead to homelessness is their mental health. They have been known to struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) once returning home from their deployment. Veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have higher rates of PTSD because they’ve seen more combat than veterans of other wars.
Readjusting to life once out of the military can be a difficult process for some veterans. There is no surprise that addiction is an issue. The hectic lifestyle and combat zone exposure, in turn, contributes to drug and alcohol use. Once home from active duty, some service members control PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and mental illness with opioid pain relievers leading to addiction.
While the VA offers programs and assistance for veterans who are struggling to find housing, some veterans are afraid to reach out and ask for help. There is a shortage of cost-effective, clean, substance-free housing for veterans after their tours of duty end. Not all veterans have a support system to come home to take them in so they turn to attempt to find housing on their own with little success.
What Can You Do To Help
The first thing you should do is look around our local community to see who needs help. You should then contact homeless and veteran organizations to volunteer in shelters. You can also donate to veteran organizations and charities that are designed to specifically assist the veteran population in your area. Finally, you can contact your locally elected politicians and officials to bring attention to the need for helping homeless veterans.
While veterans are applauded for their service, there is a lack of programs put in place to help them once they go off active duty. American veterans would greatly benefit from housing programs, drug and rehab programs, and grants that would allow them to avoid the reality of homelessness after active duty.