After service, many soldiers envision returning home to loved ones. They imagine feeling peace and fulfillment, knowing friends and family left behind were kept safe and the country they defended was kept free after years of service.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes a soldier doesn’t have a home to come back to. And sometimes the mental, emotional, and physical pressures faced during service leave them a change person. They may now feel unprepared and unequipped to forge a new civilian life.
Due to these and other risk factors, many veterans, even war heroes, end up homeless. Most of us agree that this should never be the case for any veteran.
Veterans and Homelessness: The Numbers
Severe shortage of affordable housing, access to health care, and barriers to earning livable wages are challenges faced by many homeless people. A large number of veterans are also subject to additional risk factors, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. Many veterans are also at a disadvantage for employment since their experience and training may not transfer to the civilian workforce.
As a result, military veterans account for 10% of the homeless population in our country. On any given night, that equates to almost 40,000 homeless veterans. Another 1.4 million veterans are at risk for homelessness due to poverty, lack of family and support networks, and dismal living conditions in substandard housing.
Since 2010, the number of young homeless veterans has increased, with almost 13,000 being veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND). Taken together, American’s homeless veterans today have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq (OEF/OIF), and military anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America.
According to the Homelessness Research Institute:
- 50% of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era
- 65% served our country for at least three years & 35% were stationed in a war zone
- 50% are age 51 or older, compared to 19% non-veterans
- 51% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities
- 20% of the male homeless population are veteran
Community Solutions to Veteran Homelessness
The top priority for homeless veterans is secure, safe, and clean housing that can offer a supportive environment, free of alcohol and drugs.
In addition to federal, state, and local agencies, many community nonprofits and charities backed by socially responsible companies are working to raise awareness and reduce veteran homelessness. This includes builders, property developers, and affordable housing providers. In fact, community-based partnerships that expand affordable housing options and offer health care, community employment and other support services are the key to ending veteran homelessness.
Live in Place Designs is committed to helping veterans aging in place safely and supports housing solutions that serve homeless and at-risk veterans through its Give in Place Initiative. Live in Place Designs is a socially responsible community partner that contributes a percentage of profits on every home renovation or construction project in support of local charities that run shelter programs and/or focus on homelessness and homeless prevention among at-risk seniors, disabled, and homeless individuals and veterans.