US sees falling number of homeless veterans
Expanded federal aid programs mean fewer vets are on the streets. But a younger generation of those who served needs more help than ever -- and that costs money.
It's been a national shame for decades: Some Americans who served in the military end up homeless, living in parks, under highways and in shelters. The recent economic downturn has only added to the number of veterans unable to find a proper home.
But there have been some signs of improvement. Under a program begun by President George W. Bush and expanded by the Obama administration, the overall number of homeless veterans has declined significantly.
A new report by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development says the number of homeless veterans fell by 7.2% in January from a year earlier -- and by 17.2% since 2009.
Officials say the decline is keeping the government on target to meet its current goal of ending veteran homelessness in 2015.
"While this is encouraging news, we have more work to do and will not be satisfied until no veteran has to sleep on the street," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said in a press statement.
The VA’s Homeless Veterans Initiative committed $800 million in fiscal 2011 to bulk up veteran service programs for job training, job placement and education, housing and health care.
The initiative also works with HUD to provide homeless vets with vouchers for rental assistance, as well as VA community-based outreach clinics. The so-called HUD-VASH program has reportedly helped more than 42,000 veterans find permanent housing.
But veterans, like the rest of the population, are trying to cope with a difficult economic landscape -- where one financial setback can have disastrous consequences.
"Some people are right on the edge," Candice Cummings, social work executive and homeless coordinator for the VA facility in Sioux Falls, S.D., told the Argus Leader. "If a crisis happens, they don't have resources. About 40% have been homeless at least a year or four times in three years."
Cummings is also seeing a new generation of homeless veterans needing help. "It used to be we were looking at males, 45 to 55," she said. "Now we are looking at younger people. It used to be single people. Now it is families more and women. That's a different trend."
In fact, the number of homeless veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts has reportedly more than doubled over the past two years.
"We house more Iraq and Afghanistan and younger veterans than older veterans. It used to be where a homeless vet was typically about 60 years old. Now, they’re 22 years old. And a lot of them are female veterans who have witnessed combat. They are coming back messed up. They are coming back homeless."
Younger veterans are more savvy and don't necessarily like to ask for help, Anne Murphy, with the Salvation Army in Los Angeles, told USA Today. "But there are a lot of them out there."
The VA is requesting an additional $333 million in funding in its 2013 budget request -- a 33% increase over the previous year's budget – for programs to prevent and further reduce veteran homelessness.
And helping homeless veterans become aware of these programs, grants and other services available to them can often be the first step towards finding them permanent homes.
"It’s amazing to me how many of these men and women have no clue to what they’re entitled," Dorothy Walsh, with National Veterans Homeless Support, recently told Florida Today.
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Ha! They probably failed to account for the number of homeless veterans who have passed away. Some of whom have passed away from depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. because they never got the respect they deserved in the first place.
Our active duty leadership is under tremendous pressure to "cut costs" when it comes to what DOD has to pay out. We have seen too many cases where a service member had documented injuries/problems for several years, and then all of a sudden, right before they get discharged, the military says "you are fine, you don't have any problems", and this is epidemic. DOD is trying to get out of having to go thru a medical discharge/medical retirement, which costs them money. So, it is easier for them to tell young troops "you don't have a problem" (and the troops want to believe them) than it is to be straight up and do the right thing.
We at the VA are cleaning up ALOT of DOD's messes. It is frustrating...and is one reason that the VA started the combat veteran outreach program: so our returning combat vets WILL be informed of what services are available, what they are entitled to, and how to get them. The VA started this program due to what happened with the Vietnam veterans...and the VA leadership said "never again".
If you are a veteran, or know a veteran, who is not currently or has never enrolled in VA programs or services, PLEASE have them do so! It is free, usually takes 30-45 minutes at a local VA enrollment office or vet center (or any veterans service officer from any veterans organization can help do it; the American Legion, VFW, Disabled American Veterans, etc). They only need their Social Security card and their member copy of their DD-214. If they don't have their DD-214, they can request one from the National Personnel Records Center. But they HAVE to have both of those items to get enrolled.
It's a National disgrace that we can't do more for these people who made sacrifices to serve this country. Why can't we start a jobs works program to restore our infrastructure, requiring that these veterans be given top priority in hiring to work on our roads, bridges and port facilities, work that is sorely needed right now. Yes it would cost some money (yet we just give away money to large wealthy farm corporations, Israel, etc.), aren't these veterans deserving of it, and it will help our country in the long run, i.e., at least we get a return for our investment, ever hear of priming the well.
I'm sure there are those that would oppose this, someone like MiracleGuy probably considers these homeless vets as deadbeats in his hated 47% who don't pay their pair share, and then there's "jim945" who posted "get a job", classy, real classy!
PTSD out reach program. It was easier to get in then, but the system is now making it harder. Between the waiting list and the changing of the title from PTSD to Adjustment Disorder. A word of caution beware of the later title because there is a reason for the change. Do your homework and research a lot of ones health service connected conditions can be found on the website from A-Z. www.va.gov. click on HEALTH FINDER from the directory and put in what your looking for. Take a look at www.vqlan.org ....Best to you in New Year 2013 Wes21
In 2012; Soldiers suicides surpassed, combat deaths....Headline this A.M.
So if you know some of these guys/gals, help get them involved in VFW or American Legions...
And get them to the VAs or other care....Many have issues and need help.
The Republican, Neo-Con. Libertarian and Tea Party Fascists plans to take over America will never succeed as long as all us vigilant, just and patriotic Democrats are there to STOP you.
It will NEVER happen under our watch!
God bless Freedom, Prosperity and Justice for all in America!
P.S. DIE WALL STREET, DIE!
Another Nazi exposed. That's OK --- the citizens are armed and the military will follow the Constitution and defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic (LostOnEarth)
Don't know what to really say BFGILLIS.......But good luck and best wishes in the coming year...
In the 60s when I came home, I was lucky and had a job and family to return to.
It helped me keep going...Somedays, it ain't easy for others.
VnVet......Not really sure why you are venting on Obama...Seems you have other problems ??
As far as I can tell the VA Hospitals are going full BLAST....And the care an expense laid out per Veteran, has increased substancially...
A few years back a Cabinet Post was added to the Government.
I'm sure there are some locations that are being overwhelmed....There are reasons:
Because of the RECESSION, and job losses or healthcare problems through employers; Many more Veterans are fleeing to the VA, for healthcare...All ages,all Wars, or all Services, many young ones coming back from MidEeast too.(seen a lot of that)
Many of the older Vets are getting many maladies because of old age...55-65 and up.
I believe a lot of the younger Vets are overwhelming the system, because they have been directed there, for just about anything and many do not have healthcare.
Many of WW2 Vets are now dead or in long term care...
Korean and Viet Nam Vets are heading that same direction.
But you don't have to be a Combat Vet to get care....Just a Vet.
If you know of Vets in need, I strongly recommend them contacting an American Legion, VFW or other Vets organization to help guide them through the system...They have Service officers or contacts....
I have been a sevice connected disabled combat vet since 1965....Started by getting 10% then.
I sought little more, until just recent years. Because other guy/gals needed it more..
It takes time to work through the System, because they are very busy..Not because of Obama.
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