Homeless Vet Numbers Expected to Grow
Oldtimer’s Comment: The following are excerpts from a lengthy and important story in The Washington Post. These tidbits only serve to summarize some of the important points of the story. I encourage you to read the rest at the link below.
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By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 5, 2007
Aaron Chesley, 26, is part of a new crop of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan who are struggling with homelessness. (Photo by Carol Guzy — The Washington Post)“In a homeless shelter filled with Vietnam War veterans, Chesley, 26, a former Catonsville High School honors student who joined the West Virginia Army National Guard in 2000 to help pay for college, was the only one in the facility who fought in the country’s latest conflict. But across the nation, veterans of recent combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are slowly starting to trickle into shelters, officials say.(…) As in the Vietnam War era, when thousands of vets ended up homeless, there are already signs that the recent conflicts are taking a traumatic psychological toll on some service members. Many veterans’ advocates said that despite unprecedented attempts by the military and Veterans Affairs to care for veterans, increasing numbers of the new generation of warriors are ending up homeless.“This is something we need to be concerned about,” said Cheryl Beversdorf, president of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, a Washington-based nonprofit.(…) Army studies have found that up to 30 percent of soldiers coming home from Iraq have suffered from depression, anxiety or PTSD. A recent study found that those who have served multiple tours are 50 percent more likely to suffer from acute combat stress.Veterans’ homeless shelters across the country, such as the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training in Baltimore, are bracing for increased demand. “The wave has not hit yet, but it will,” said retired Army Col. Charles Williams, MCVET’s executive director.(…) “Usually it takes a period of time before it surfaces — the PTSD,” (Woody Curry) said. “And the military mentality leads you to try to tough it out and not say anything.”(…) Meanwhile, a report by the Democratic staff of the House Veterans Affairs Committee found that from October 2005 to June 2006, the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking services from walk-in veterans centers doubled, from 4,467 to 9,103.“It’s clear from the report that Vet Center capacity has not kept pace with demand for services, and the administration has failed to properly plan and prepare for the mental health needs of returning veterans and their families,” U.S. Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-Maine), a member of the committee, said in a statement.