Homelessness is a major challenge that affects people from all walks of life in the United States. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, there are more than 50,000 veterans who are homeless every night. The statistics also indicate that about 1.4 million others are always at the risk of losing their shelters. The lack of shelter among this group affects both genders and different age groups. More than 40 percent of homeless vets are between the ages of 31 and 50. Some of the biggest challenges that face these people include;
1. Unemployment. The unemployment rate among the vets is about 6.9% which is slightly lower than the national rate of about 7.3 percent. Some of them fail to secure employment because they possess skills that do not fit the civilian life. The unemployment rate among returning veterans has declined over the past few years. Some citizens in this class find it hard to fit civilian way of life which in extreme cases leads to suicide.
2. Trauma and stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder simply abbreviated as PTSD, is another challenge that faces these people. Some of these returning service women and men have in some cases been in combat missions that lead to loss of life, injuries, sexual violence and living under harsh environmental conditions.
3. Isolation. Separation from families contributes to the isolation of these people from the normal daily life of an American citizen. When they return from missions, most of them tend to continue living alone which exposes them to more stress. Some of them refuse to take government subsidized apartments so as to avoid regular interactions.
4. Substance abuse. The veterans take about 11% of the total homeless people in the United States. Statistics from the National government also points out that about one out of every five veterans who are recovering from substance abuse are homeless.
5. Poverty. Reports show that one out every five homes that depend on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program have a veteran. The Vets also rely on food stamps from all other causes such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program which shows they cannot feed themselves. More than 40,000 of these vets receive pension benefits or some form of compensation, but it is still not enough for food, health schemes, and decent housing.
6. High suicide rate. About 22 veterans commit suicide every day which is about 20% of the total in the country. Three out of every five vets who die of suicide are reported to have mental health conditions. Some organizations such as National Alliance for Suicide Prevention and Veterans Crisis Line have dedicated teams that work with these people to reduce suicide cases.
7. Criminal justice issues. Special legal projects and courts that cater for vets facing substance abuse challenges are in operation. These frameworks prioritize the interconnection between behavioral healthcare and criminal justice when solving veteran’s criminal crimes.
The leading causes of homelessness among the U.S. veterans are poverty, unemployment, trauma and disability. Data collected by http://www.damichigan.com/mi-homeless-vets/ indicates that disability is the prime cause of homelessness among the vets. Various American cities and states have programs aimed at averting this problem.