Homeless War Veterans in America

Table of Contents


Many of the citizens of this great country have served this country in times of war. However, the kind of treatment they get afterwards is worrying as many of them suffer in the hands of hopelessness for them to look for better places to stay. This situation has caused many of them to suffer from homelessness. To be precise, the current estimates record that at a given time up to 131,000 war veterans lack a place they call home. Males form the majority at ninety six percent while the rest are females. The current statistics reveal that up to twice that number suffer from homelessness in the course of the year. To ensure that the war heroes of this great nation have decent places of living require great efforts.

At present, the estimated population of male and female homeless Vietnam War veterans is much higher than the total population who passed away during the war. Also found among the homeless populace, are a few Desert Storm veterans. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects a number of the homeless veterans who served in the Vietnam War. However, recent research studies have failed to relate a direct causal relationship involving armed services, Vietnam War, or participation in the battle and lack of homes amongst the Veterans. The family status, availability of assistance from the family members, and diverse personal behaviors are the major risk factors related to the problem of homelessness among the veterans. Their engagement in the military service has not formed part of these risk factors. (“Overview of Homelessness” para.1 -3).

Overview of the situation of homeless veterans in U.S

Out of the total number of homeless people in the United States, male and female war veterans form the highest number of a category of people who lack homes. Out of the thirty-four percent male veteran population in the U.S., forty percent of them lack a home to live in. It is estimated that, “on an average night, about 200,000 veterans are in the streets searching for a place to stay” (Glantz 159). Out of the thousands of the veterans who are homeless, the Department of Veteran Affairs is capable of providing only 10,000 rooms for them.

In spite of having suffered from mental illness, the majority of the vets lack sufficient insurance coverage. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) takes care of 40,000 compared to up to 460,000 veterans a year (Cohen para. 5).The homelessness of the veterans does not entirely result from their dedicated efforts in fighting for our country. A number of them find it hard to fit conveniently into society after their experience in military combat. The highest number of homeless veterans was engaged in military conflict during the late Vietnam era and post-Vietnam era. They did not participate in armed conflict, but now manifest drug addiction problems or mental illness problems. The number of Black Americans and Whites in this crisis is approximately even.

An approximate number of 62,000 homeless shelters were available in the U.S by 2002. In many instances, individuals can only put up within the shelter during the night, but during the day, they search for other necessities like food and shelter. Facilities for mothers and children are included here. A number of facilities provide soup kitchens, teach job training, offer support groups sessions, and provide assistance to those addicted to drugs. Those seeking help in the sheltering facilities often face some problems. Most shelters lack storage facilities for personal belongings. The numbers of people who intend to enter the facilities are usually many that some individuals sometimes not permitted to enter. Some Veterans fear going into the shelters because of overcrowding, physical injury, or burglary.

The wars that the homeless veterans in the United States participated in are World War II (1940-1945), the war that involved North Koreans and South Koreans (1950-1953), Vietnam war (1954-1975), war in Afghanistan, present day Iraqi war, and the military efforts to thwart drug culture in South America. Among the homeless vets who served in combat, 41% are Vietnam period veterans, 36% Korean period veterans, and 55% served during World War II (Baumohl 99).

Causes of Homelessness

The U.S is supposed to be the wealthiest country in the world, and yet the increasing number of its homeless citizens is worrying. A certain complex interplay of several factors often leads to this. One of the major concerns is that the veterans coming back from battlefields have no means of earning substantial income to sustain themselves. This lack of adequate means of affording a house together with the nation’s increased poverty levels multiplies housing expenses to unaffordable levels. Other veterans are homeless because they are unable to meet their medical expenses or are incapable of meeting the requirements for public assistance. Problems in the home such as divorce, violence, mental illness, substance abuse compounded by lack of support from the family members can also make a veteran homeless.

Homelessness amongst the veterans is particularly high in the rural areas. The reasons for homelessness are not limited to the city environment; they extend across the whole country and influence everyone. The rural areas that have inadequate resources and intervention facilities to prevent it from occurring are at more risk of experiencing homelessness. When the Veterans return from war, they lack adequate skills to get a good paying employment. Having a source of revenue is not adequate in reversing the situation of homelessness. What matters is earning enough cash to afford a home. In fact, some of the employed veterans are stuck in temporary labor agencies jobs that gives them low salaries and above normal working hours. It is difficult for homeless veterans to get a career when they lack address or stable means of contact with other people.

The problem of homelessness is increasing in the country. When the financial position of the country worsens, the number of homeless veterans increases. Even though homelessness is not a permanent condition, it is a vicious cycle that is hard to maneuver. Veterans may become homeless at different periods of their lives for separate causes. In certain instances, homelessness gives yield to homelessness. The effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder worsen this condition. Dependence on drugs is complicated to manage when a veteran’s life is on the streets. Therefore, trapping of veterans occurs in this vicious cycle of homelessness.

Support to homeless war veterans

The VA has assistance programs to the homeless veterans that entail cooperation with the various community service donors to increase the provision of services to veterans in difficult situations. This collaboration has achieved remarkable progress in lowering the population of homeless veterans at any given night by at least forty percent from 2005. The VA provides a range of special programs and initiatives tailor made to assist the homeless veterans live a self sufficient and independent life as much as possible (“Homeless Veterans Committee” para.2). The programs have developed since their establishment in 1987. They provide the following: aggressive search for veterans staying in streets and shelters without seeking for assistance, medical assistance to the affected individuals, transitional rehabilitation assistance, job training, and provision of assistance in establishing permanent housing.

Vets rehabilitation require collaborative effort that gives protected housing and dietary needs, beneficial physical health care, counseling on drug addiction and mental health, job training, placement support, personal growth and empowerment. All programs to help veterans must involve assisting them attain levels where they are able to find and maintain jobs. The most beneficial efforts to help the homeless and veterans in danger are community-based, “vets assisting vets” groups. Programs that realize best results are temporary homes with the companionship of staying in well structured, out of drugs setting with colleagues who are showing progress in improving themselves. It is essential that community-based organizations strive to support the veterans because currently, the funding by the government is limited to one out of ten in need.


An approximate number of two hundred and fifty such goodwill organizations have been of great help in meeting the immediate and the long-term needs of the war veterans. These organizations achieve more success when they toil in cooperation with the governmental agencies, other homeless groups, and different veteran groups. Individuals who engage in these programs are likely to transform faster in becoming industrious citizens again.

The present situation that is facing this great country’s heroes needs urgent intervention. All of us can play a part in realizing this goal by paying a visit to the shelters of the homeless, motivate one another to join the local homeless associations, provide financial support to this worthy course, or make a call to the local representative to check the progress of the work to reform the vets back into the society.

Annotated Bibliography

Baumohl, Jim. Homelessness in America. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1996. Print.

In the book that describes the situation of homelessness in America, Baumohl gives elaborate numerical analyses of the veterans who participated in all the wars since the First World War. The author uses numerical evidence to provide a framework for comprehending the root causes of the expansion of homelessness and its results. He explores attempts to provide the immediate necessities of the homeless veterans as well as seek for possible interventions to reduce the problem of homelessness in America.

Cohen, Sharon. “About American Homelessness.” eHow. 2009. Web.

This internet source adds to the debate on issues affecting the homeless veterans in the United States. Cohen provides the history, potential, misconceptions, prevention strategies, and considerations to make about homeless people in the U.S. This internet article seeks to provide an elaborate description of the extent of this present problem and possible solutions to reduce its impacts to the society. The author discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using homeless shelters. Some shelters provide beneficial support services to the affected. On the other hand, problems of insecurity and congestion have been attributed to these homes.

Glantz, Aaron. The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle Against America’s Veterans. California: Berkeley University of California Press, 2008. Print.

The author of this book, Glantz, is literary scholar in the area of America’s problem of homelessness at The University of California. He uses data from his research findings to illustrate the deplorable situation of homelessness in this country. He puts it that the overall population of homeless male and female veterans makes up the largest number of a group of people who are without homes in the U.S. He finds out that on an average night, about 200,000 veterans are homeless. Several chapters in this book shades more light on the reality of this problem. It is a good book addresses possible ways of solving this problem in a wealthy country.

“Homeless Veterans Committee.” Vietnam Veterans of America. 2009. Web.

This scholarly website about Vietnam Veterans of America provides an in depth description about the work of the Veteran Affairs of America activities in alleviating the suffering of the Veterans. The VA has programs aimed at assisting the homeless veterans in collaboration with the various community-based donors. The programs are tailor made to help the homeless veterans have a means of sustaining themselves. This website emphasizes that all programs to help veterans must involve giving them assistance to attain levels where they are able to find and maintain jobs.

“Overview of Homelessness.” Department of Veterans affairs. 2009. Web.

This scholarly website by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs gives an overview of the situation of homelessness in this country. It lays down facts to prove that homelessness among the veterans is caused by various factors besides their involvement in battle. Male and female veterans constitute the highest number of a group of people who are homeless in the US. Factors such as the statutes of the family, help accorded to them by the family members, and other personal characteristics are primary causes of this escalating problem. It also outlays that veterans suffer from various problems such as drug and alcohol abuse that worsens their problems.

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