Veterans make up 43 % of all homeless males over 25.
That is not a typo! See the proof here and the data here. The story below is about John McCarthy, but he is just one of the latest to join the ranks of homeless veterans in this country. There are more than 200,000 homeless veterans on the street in any one night, more than 400,000 are homeless during any one year. Among the critically homeless, veterans make up the majority.
The problem is due in large part to the VA’s almost criminal slowness in recognizing mental illness and alcohol/drug abuse among returning warriors. Mental illness including PTSD are often misdiagnosed, apparently by design, as being preconditions or else not related to military service. Now I ask you, if our soldiers are mentally ill prior to going into service, why were they accepted? If they have it now, why aren’t we fixing it? If it is not related then why are our veterans so overrepresented among the homeless. Why are we dragging our feet while our returning war heroes are losing families and homes due to no credible help?
The other part of the problem is the gross underfunding of programs designed to help our homeless heroes. Total VA funding is only $1.37 per homeless vet per day.
VA funded beds provide for only 1 of every 26 homeless vets. Much of this funding goes to just a few states and for transitional housing that serve only a few at a time. Recent funding is even worse, see this headline: VA Announces 33 cent per day Grants for Homeless Vets.
Our veterans make up 27% of the male population but 43% of the male homeless that are old enough to have served. Why are our homeless veterans so overrepresented among the homeless? What is going on? Half of our homeless veterans are mentally ill, 40% suffer from alcohol and drug abuse. This far exceeds the normal homeless population.
These are our Heroes!
They need to be treated like Heroes!
They served our country, we need to serve them now!
Consider this: If we fix this problem, the adult male homeless population in this country would decrease by 43% overnight!
By Connie Paige, Globe Correspondent | August 12, 2007
BEDFORD — John McCarthy hails from a proud military family. He was named after a great-uncle gassed by the Germans in World War I. Both his grandfather and father fought in World War II.
But recently the 46-year-old found himself homeless, with little to show for his military career.
“I’m trying to get totally back on my feet and back into the swing of things — which is easier said than done when you’re starting from scratch and have no resources,” said McCarthy, when he was enrolled last month in a 40-bed shelter for homeless veterans at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford.
McCarthy is one of a significant number of homeless veterans living in shadows in the suburbs, navigating a revolving door between shelters, temporary homes, and the street. Some advocates say the ranks of homeless vets may soon grow with troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious health and mental health problems needing care not available.
“Basically, we’re very concerned that the condition is going to get worse,” said Raymond O’Brien of Stoneham, national chairman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Homeless Veterans and Rehabilitation Committee and on the new Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services.
O’Brien is among those attempting to address the issue now. He said the council will work with the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs in coming months to try to ensure that a safety net is in place in time.
At the 90-bed Lowell Transitional Living Center, where clients sit outside at makeshift tables in a gritty concrete pen surrounded by chain-link fence, executive director Joseph Tucker says the facility has taken in veterans. He says he cannot give firm numbers because clients do not always identify themselves as former military.
Such veterans become homeless for many reasons, said Deborah Outing, a spokeswoman for the Bedford veterans hospital. Many have drug- and alcohol-abuse, marital, or unemployment problems. Others suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder — a belated reaction to combat causing behavioral problems, making it impossible to hold a job. The syndrome can take years — to develop.
Click here to see the more than 50 Homeless Veteran articles. Help our Heroes.