Homelessness Exacts an Unnecessary Toll on Our Veterans

Homelessness is surely one of the crueler manifestations of poverty, and it often reveals a lack of support networks within a community. One would be hard-pressed to find a more heart-wrenching victim of homelessness than a veteran.

Unfortunately, homelessness among former members of the armed services is not all that uncommon. The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that, on any given night, there are 57,849 homeless veterans. During the course of a year, about twice as many veterans endure homelessness at least once.

The vast majority of homeless veterans are male (about 92 percent), and a majority are single, urban dwellers suffering from alcohol abuse, substance abuse and/or other disorders. Veterans account for approximately 13 percent of the homeless population in the United States.

The causes of homelessness among veterans are many: a lack of affordable housing, insufficient income, difficulties in transferring military skills into a post-military professional environment and an absence or shortage of a supportive network of family and friends.

Among all possible causes, two of the most telling are inadequate access to health care and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These causes suggest that many of the delays in diagnosis and treatment at Veterans Administration health care facilities — as well as restricted eligibility requirements and less-than-prompt care for veterans with PTSD — are taking a greater toll on veterans than one might imagine.

In Michigan, the Detroit-based Michigan Veterans Foundation assists homeless veterans to stabilize their lives and regain their self-sufficiency by offering temporary housing. But a more comprehensive, national effort is needed to help veterans find housing, to provide them with nutritious meals, to get them the health care and counseling they need, and to offer them more options for job counseling, training and placement.

Only then will this nation begin offer a better chance and a more hospitable welcome for our military heroes.

Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC fights for veterans rights. We fight to make sure you get the benefits you deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more or contact a veterans lawyer, visit http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com/ or call 800.693.4800

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