Category Archives: statistics

Ministering to the Homeless 7

This is the seventh article in a series on ministering to the homeless.   This one is special.  It is about a ministry by Steve Brigham that has touched my heart to the extent that I’ve included his ministry twice.  The first article on his minstry dates back to February of 2007.    I thought it was time for an update because the compassion and love and sacrifice required for this ministry is just enormous.  The article below is reproduced only in snippets to give you a flavor of what the good Reverand does for the homeless.  Please read the Tri-Town News story for the rest of it.

 Rev.’s appointed rounds are off the beaten path

 Steve Brigham continues outreach to homeless population

BY TOYNETT HALL Staff Writer Tri-Town News January 10, 2008

On a regular basis the Rev. Steve Brigham of the Lakewood Outreach Ministry wakes at the crack of dawn to visit 11 campsites in Ocean County.   These are not the type of campsites where families go to spend a weekend enjoying nature.

Brigham walks along railroad tracks and trudges through the muddy forest floor bearing gifts for the homeless people who live in these campsites and who have become his friends.   One of his goals is to make sure that the people who live in tent encampments throughout the county have enough propane gas to run the heaters that keep them warm through the cold winter nights.

As he reaches a group of tents in what is identifiable as a Mexican encampment, Brigham offers blankets to the people living at the site and tells his amigos where tortillas are being cooked and that he will bring them a big tent the next time he comes.

A short time later Brigham is driving his bus – a motel on wheels – to a site called Shanty Town. At this campsite some of the dwellings are made with wood that came from a lumber yard. Other people live in tents that have been provided by Brigham and anonymous donors.

(…) 

The last site of the day was also in Toms River. At that spot Brigham pitched tents for Gloria, 65, and Richard A. Mazzella Jr., 33. Both individuals said they ended up here as a result of financial hardships.

(…) 

Another resident of the camp, Robert Wayne Pisano, said he has been homeless since he was 16. He is now in his 40s. Pisano said if it were not for Brigham’s kindness, he does not know where he would be. He said Brigham offers people like him a measure of hope.

“I have never seen a man take time out of his life like this. This guy cares who you are and where you are. He treats us like we are his own kids. Every piece of clothing I have on right now is because of Steve,” Pisano said.

As tears welled up in his eyes, Pisano said, “We have nothing. Yes, we are homeless, but we want to be treated like everyone else. Please recognize us.”

(…) 

According to statistics from the New Jersey Corporation for Supportive Housing, a national nonprofit, as of Jan. 25, 2007, there were 14,939 homeless people in New Jersey. Of that number, 12,397 were adults and 2,542 were children.

In Ocean County, 366 adults were found to be homeless. In Monmouth County, 590 adults were found to homeless, according to information provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing. These numbers may be under-reported, according to the agency.

Anyone who would like to assist the Rev. Steve Brigham may call (732) 364- 0340 or (732) 814-5537. Brigham may also be reached at Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church, P.O. Box 326, Lakewood, NJ 08701.

THIS is what ministering to the homeless means!

Winter is Here, It is already cold,

It is Cold to the Bone

Please volunteer somewhere!

Oldtimer

Report – Scientific Progress – Gulf War Illnesses

The full title of this report is “Scientific Progress Understanding Gulf War Illnesses:  Report and Recommendations“.

Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses
September, 2004 

This is an extensive report running 152 pdf pages.   The Executive Summary has these unsettling words:

In the years since the war, thousands of Gulf War veterans have been evaluated and treated by government and private physicians. But the federal research effort has not succeeded in identifying treatments that substantially improve the health of ill veterans.

Further, there are no programs in place to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments currently being used or to identify and develop treatments that may hold promise for these conditions.

(…) Many of the veterans who served in the Gulf War were exposed to a variety of potentially toxic substances during their  deployment.  Among these were several neurotoxins-chemical nerve agents, pills taken to protect veterans from the deadly effects of nerve agents, and multiple types of pesticides-that belong to a single class of compounds that adversely affect the nervous system.

Finding 1  A substantial proportion of Gulf War veterans are ill with multisymptom conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness.  (…) 

Finding 2  Treatments that improve the health of veterans with Gulf War illnesses are urgently needed. (…)

Finding 3 A growing body of research indicates that an important component of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses is neurological in character. (…)

Finding 4 Evidence supports a probable link between exposure to neurotoxins and the development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses. (…)

Finding 5  Other wartime exposures may also have contributed to Gulf War veterans’ illnesses. (…)

Finding 6  The health of Gulf veterans must be carefully monitored to determine if Gulf War service is associated with excess rates of specific diseases, disease-specific deaths, or overall mortality.(…)

Finding 7  Important questions concerning the health of children and other family members of Gulf War veterans remain unanswered. (…)

Finding 8  Progress in understanding Gulf War veterans’ illnesses has been hindered by lack of coordination and availability of data resources maintained by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  (…)

Finding 9  Research on Gulf War veterans’ illnesses has important implications for current and future military deployments and for homeland security.  (…)

Finding 10  Further progress in understanding and treating Gulf War veterans’ illnesses requires federal research programs that are properly focused, well-managed, and adequately funded.  (…)

Each of these findings are supported in detail with charts, data and supporting research documents that are organized by topic and by suspected causes.

Here are just a few of the tables and figures:

You can see from this figure that those in the Gulf war report 2 to 7 times as many symptoms as veterans not in the theatre.

Many of the symptoms are common among veterans that did not serve in the Gulf War as shown in the left side of this figure.  However, those veterans that were deployed in the Gulf are about 10 times as likely to report 3 to 6  types of symptoms from Table 1 than those not deployed.

The excess illness column on the far right was used in the study to show that the excess illness was consistent among particular units of deployed veterans vs non-deployed veterans from the same area of the country.  The ratio of deployed ill veterans was 2 to 4 times as high as those not deployed and even though they came from the same area as those that went to the Gulf .   For example those from Kansas that were deployed in the Gulf had 2.5 to 4 times as many multiple symptoms than those from Kansas that were not deployed.

This table is very alarming to me.   It shows that the deployed Gulf War veterans are developing Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) at a rate nearly 4 times higher than those veterans not deployed as they age to 55 and older.  ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, with less than 10 percent of patients surviving more than five years after initial diagnosis.

Possible effects of pesticides, PB (Pyridostigmine bromide pills used to pre-treat nerve gas exposure), and other AChEis (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors) chemicals used during the Gulf War.

Evidence in the literature is suggestive, but not conclusive, AChE inhibitors such as organophosphates and carbamates, could be among the potential contributing agents to some of the undiagnosed illnesses seen in Persian Gulf War veterans. -From: A Review of the Scientific Literature As It Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses–Volume 8: Pesticides48

This topic was extensively discussed and seems to be of significant concern to those conducting the study.   AChEis compounds are sometimes used for beneficial medications for Alzheimer’s Disease, but also to make pesticides and saran nerve gas.  

(…) these studies have consistently identified AChEis to be significantly associated with higher rates of symptoms and illnesses in Gulf War veterans. The uniformity of these results contrasts with a lack of consistent findings in multivariable analyses for such wartime experiences as participation in combat, exposure to oil fire smoke, and exposure to depleted uranium. Limitations in epidemiologic studies that rely on selfreported exposures always require a cautious interpretation of findings.

Taken as a whole, however, this accumulated body of research provides compelling evidence of a probable link between neurotoxic exposures in the Gulf War and the development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.

Pregnancies, micsarrages, birth defects: 

In 2001, a report from VA’s large National Survey of Gulf War-era Veterans and their Families indicated that Gulf War veterans reported a significantly greater number of post-war pregnancies that ended in miscarriages or children born with birth defects than nondeployed era veterans.

This table is very alarming to me.  It shows that the rate of birth defects for first live births for deployed veterans is two to 3 times as high as for those not deployed.   This applies to children of both male and female veterans.   Something is tragically wrong with this picture.

The above is only a brief overview of this subject.  Depleted Uranium is also a part of this study, but is largely discounted, but not thrown out.   If you are interested in the details, the report is remarkably readable and available at the link above or can be viewed or downloaded here.  This report is more than 3 years old.  It will be interesting to see how many of its recommendations have been followed.

What is so heartbreaking is that the rate of ALS among deployed Gulf War Veterans is higher at all age levels than Gulf War veterans not deployed, 3.5 times as high at ages above 55, birth defect rates are double, Gulf War Veterans are 3 to 4 times as likely to be ill with these symptoms. Yet the funding is dismal, only about $31 million average a year through 2004.

That is about $32.00 per deployed Gulf War veteran a year research funding.    Hmm, 88 cents a day per veteran – about the cost of a single plain doughnut.

Equivalent Funding for Gulf War Illnesses

(photo courtesy of roboppy who posted as creative commons)

(all the others are copied from the cited report)

The veterans deserve significantly more research, deserve the best possible treatment and deserve adequate compensation to offset their illnesses. They are all heroes to me.

Oldtimer

December 21 – Homeless Memorial Day

December 21 

Homeless Memorial Day

memorial day poster

The date is chosen as the First Day of Winter – The longest Night of the Year

(Find the poster here)

For the homeless, any night can be a nightmare.   Danger aside, Winter is the worst season, any night with rain, sleet or snow is just plain miserable.   Unsheltered homeless die far too often in such conditions.   Our homeless heroes, our veterans die in the cold, sleet and snow too.

According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, homelessness dramatically increases the risk of illness, injury or death.  

Compared to the general population, the homeless :

Are 3 times more likely to die at any given age 

Middle aged men and young women are most at risk

Have a life span 28 years less than national average

Have 6 times the incidence of serious illnesses

Die from illnesses that are easily treated or prevented

Who live in shelters have high risk of communicable diseases

Have a high incidence of death from heart problems or cancer

Risk death on the streets from cold

Have 8 times the risk of dieing from Frostbite 

Too often die on the streets from unprovoked hate crimes

Lack access to quality health care. 

Here is a list of 2222 homeless people and their locations by city that are known deaths in 2006.  There were an estimated 17,500 homeless deaths in the United States last year, meaning that more than 15,000 homeless died virtually unnoticed or at least unidentified in 2006.  (I base that knowing that there are about 735,000 homeless in this country and the homeless die at 3x the rate of 800 deaths per 100,000 of the general population.)

Keep in mind that about 4,600 of those deaths are homeless veterans.  I base that on the knowledge that there are an estimated 195,000 homeless veterans and use the same rates as above.

There is no way to know how close that number is, but whatever it is, it is shameful that our homeless are so very vulnerable to death through the neglect of our system of care.   It is a disgrace to this country that almost 5000 of our heroes die in in the streets and alleys of our country each year.    

So when Homeless Memorial Day comes around, you can also remember the 4600 homeless heroes that did not die on the battlefield of war, but lived to die in the alleys, streets and woods of the country they served, uncared for, helpless and unwanted.  My fault as much as anyone for not speaking up as loudly as I should.    Can’t we all do more? 

Oldtimer

Vital Mission: Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

New Report –

Vital Mission:

Ending Homelessness

Among Veterans

Homeless Veteran

Photo by  |Shrued (creative commons licensed)  Find it Here

This 36 page report released by the National Alliance to End Homelessness details the following highlights:

In 2006, approximately 195,827 veterans were homeless on a given night-an increase of 0.8 percent from 194,254 in 2005. More veterans experience homeless over the course of the year.  They  estimate that 336,627 were homeless in 2006.

Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people. They represent roughly 26 percent of homeless people, but only 11 percent of the civilian population 18 years and older.  (Please see Oldtimer’s comment on these numbers below before you repeat them.) This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed, and have a lower poverty rate than the general population.

A number of states, including Louisiana and California, had high rates of homeless veterans. In addition, the District of Columbia had a high rate of homelessness among veterans with approximately 7.5 percent of veterans experiencing homelessness.

They estimate that in 2005 approximately 44,000 to 64,000 veterans were chronically homeless (i.e., homeless for long periods or repeatedly and with a disability).

Oldtimer’s comment on the numbers:  My own studies show that  the real numbers are more like 43% of the male homeless are veterans. Here is an interesting footnote to the numbers reported above:

This estimate was calculated with 2005 veterans data from the CHALENG data set and 2005 tabulations of Continuum of Care (CoC) point-in-time counts.The CoC counts do not differentiate between adults and children, so in the number provided here-percent of homeless people who are veterans-the denominator includes some people under 18. If children were taken out of the 744,313 total, veterans would make up a larger percentage of the homeless population. This suggests that 26 percent is a conservative estimate. Either way, this estimate falls within the bounds of past research.Rosenheck (1994) reviewed research studies and found that between 29 and 49 percent of homeless men are veterans. HUD’s recent Annual Homelessness Assessment report (2007) puts the percentage of homeless veterans at 18 percent; however, 35 percent of the cases in this data source were missing, making the estimate highly unreliable.

The Rosenheck estimate  range includes the 43% that I had independently found.  The basis data for my findings are here.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has an interactive map that show veteran homelessness by state.  Click on the map to activate it, then your cursor will bring up data for each state as you hover over it.

It is interesting to note that Washington DC has the highest percentage of veterans that are homeless, more than double the rate of any other state at a whopping 7.51%.  Other high percentage states are Louisiana, California, Oregon, Nevada, Connecticut and  North Dakota in that order.   The highest number of homeless veterans are in California with more than 49,000 homeless, followed by New York, Florida and Texas in that order.

The following comes directly from the report:

Lack of affordable housing is the primary driver of homelessness. The 23.4 million U.S. veterans generally do not have trouble affording housing costs; veterans have high rates of home ownership and appear generally well housed. However, there is a subset of veterans who have severe housing cost burden.

■ We estimate that nearly half a million (467,877) veterans were severely rent burdened and were paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent.


■ More than half (55 percent) of veterans with severe housing cost burden fell below the poverty level and 43 percent were receiving foods stamps.

4■ Rhode Island, California, Nevada, and Hawaii were the states with the highest percentage of veterans with severe housing cost burden. The District of Columbia had the highest rate, with 6.4 percent of veterans paying more than 50 percent of their income toward rent.

■ Female veterans, those with a disability, and unmarried or separated veterans were more likely to experience severe housing cost burden. There are also differences by period of service, with those serving during the Korean War and WWII more likely to have severe housing cost burden.

■ We estimate that approximately 89,553 to 467,877 veterans were at risk of homelessness.  At risk is defined as being below the poverty level and paying more than 50 percent of household income on rent. It also includes households with a member who has a disability, a person living alone, and those who are not in the labor force.

However, the report body shows a laundry list of causes:

Lack of Income: Veterans who experience homelessness, like most homeless people, typically have very low incomes, and research suggests that extreme poverty predisposes veterans to homelessness. For this reason, veterans who joined the service after 1973 through the all-volunteer force are more likely to come from poverty and have lower rates of educational attainment.  (…) The unemployment rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 is 15 percent,

Physical Health and Disability: One out of 10 veterans is disabled and many suffer from physical disabilities, oftentimes caused by injuries in combat. (…)  The number of disabled veterans is increasing with more than 20,000 veterans suffering from wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mental Health and Disability: Mental health issues are also prevalent among veterans. The VA reports that 45 percent of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, including many who report high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  (…)

Substance Abuse: According to the Department of Veterans Affairs,  approximately 70 percent of homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse problems (…)

Weak Social Networks: (…) Veterans have low marriage rates and high divorce rates and, currently, one in five veterans is living alone.  (…) Social networks are particularly important forthose who have a crisis or need temporary help. Without this assistance, they are at high risk for homelessness.

Lack of Services to Meet Current Need: The VA has over 19,000 transitional housing beds for homeless veterans (10,000 through partnerships with local community agencies) with 460 FTEE in homeless program staffing.  (Oldtimer’s comment:  19,000 beds to serve over 300,000 veterans that are homeless during at least part of the year of which 44,000 to 64,000 are chronically homeless and 195,000 are homeless on any one night!)

I hope you can sleep well tonight after reading these statistics and findings. I know that I won’t.  I also know the homeless heroes sleeping in the bushes, alleys, behind dumpsters, in doorways, and in the woods or on mountain sides are not going to sleep as well as they could if we could only get our government to respect and support our troops when they come home.

Our Heroes

are out there tonight

and it is so very cold!

Oldtimer

How many homeless youth are there?

How many Kids are Homeless?

There is a  Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report to Congress with information on this subject titled Runaway and Homeless Youth: Demographics, Programs, and Emerging Issues which was published in January 2007.  This link is to their 37 page report. 

I think they are being honest when they say this:

The precise number of homeless and runaway youth is unknown due to their residential mobility and overlap among the populations. Determining the number of these youth is further complicated by the lack of a standardized methodology for counting the population and inconsistent definitions of what it means to be homeless or a runaway.

Estimates of the homeless youth population range from 52,000 to over one million.  Estimates of runaway youth – including “thrownaway” youth – are between 1 million and 1.7 million.

Part of the problem of counting homeless youth is that they often avoid shelters and more or less hide in inaccessable areas where they avoid counters.  Some hide out with friends, others take to the woods and alleys, even the rails.  You may have seen an earlier post of mine (Homeless Youth Project) where loose groups of homeless youth ride the rails around the country.  Youth that do come into contact with census counters are reluctant to admit that they are homeless.    

The 52,000 to over 1 million estimates are based on a series of counting attempts through the decades.    A 1987 GAO report estimated 52,000 to 170,000 homeless on any one night.  CDC’s 1992 National Health Interview Survey of youth ages 12 to 17 determined that 5% of those they surveyed had been homeless during some part of the prior year.  That estimate came to more than a million youth that experienced homelessness during that year.

The latest federal survey was conducted by NISMART – (National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children) which was conducted in 1999.  That study found that 1.8 million youth under age 18 left home or were asked to leave home in 1999 (at some time during the year). 

The NISMART-2 study for 1999 shows that:

1.8 million youth under age 18 experienced homelessness

68% were between the ages of 15 and 17 (1,224,000)

32% were 14 or younger (612,000) 

20% reported sexual abuse in the home (360,000)

33% reported family conflict in the home (600,000)

there were about an equal number of males and females

57% were White, 17% Black, 15% Hispanic

about 11,000 were runaway foster children

more than half left home for more than 1 to 6 days

30% traveled 1 to 10 miles from home

30% traveled 11 to 50 miles from home

nearly 99% were returned to their homes

That leaves more than 18,000 that never came back that year.

Another study, reported by Jan Moore,  Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth Review of Literature (1995-2005)  ,  reported 1 million to 1.3 million homeless youth.   I reported on this study earlier, see How many of the Homeless are Youth? 

Also see a forum report I presented in 2006 on the Cobb Faith Partnership site titled:  Homelessness Among Children and Youth – Basic Facts in which 1.35 million homeless children are reported homeless in a given year, according to the National Law Center.    The numbers seem to be centering around 1.3 million with a spread of 300,000 either way.   I feel that the numbers probably fluctuate wildly on any given day in any given year, much like trying to get the average level of a raging river.

Factors Influencing Homelessness and Leaving Home:  Youth most often cite family conflict as the major reason for their homelessness or episodes of running away. A literature review of homeless youth found that a youth’s relationship with a step-parent, sexual activity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, school problems, and alcohol and drug use were strong predictors of family discord.  14% of Foster kids that age out of the system experience homelessness the first year and 25% at sometime overall.   Another report shows 20%.

Of those callers who used the National Runaway Switchboard (a federally-sponsored call center for youth and their relatives involved in runaway incidents) one third attributed family conflict as the reason for their call.  Runaway and homeless youth also describe abuse and neglect as common experiences.  Over 20% of youth in the NISMART-2 reported being physically or sexually abused at home in the prior year
or feared abuse upon returning home.

Congress has funded 102 million dollars for three federal funded programs:

Basic Center Program: To provide outreach, crisis intervention, temporary shelter, counseling, family unification, and after care services to runaway and homeless youth under age 18 and their families.

Transitional Living Program: To support projects that provide homeless youth ages 16 to 21 with stable, safe longer-term residential services up to 18 months (or longer if the youth has not reached age 18), including counseling in basic life skills, interpersonal skills building, educational advancement, job attainment skills, and physical and mental health care. 

Street Outreach Program: To provide street-based outreach and education, including treatment, counseling, provision of information, and referrals for runaway, homeless, and street youth who have been subjected to or are at risk of being subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation.

Those are the facts on homeless youth, the best that I can report at this time.   You can select whatever set of data suits your purpose, but it appears the most current data comes in somewhere between 1 and 1.8 million kids that experience homelessness in any given year, centering around 1.3 million youth.  

There is no good estimate as to how many that amounts to on any given night, but if you are one of those kids, it is way too many. 

Those are our kids out there

Some Special Links:

Click to see all Oldtimer Speaks Out homeless youth articles (35 so far).

Click here if you came here to find Oldtimer’s articles on Homeless Veterans (75 so far)

Grace and Peace,

Oldtimer

GAO Testimony – DOD and VA

Transition Field Unit staffingGAO Testimony – DOD and VA

This is a troubling situation.  We have our kids off at war and they become severely injured, physically and mentally.   Our country has pulled out all stops to provide the best possible care for them and still we have problems.  Due to the protective gear and terrific and speedy medical care, thankfully more and more are surviving.  This shift in the severity and long term recovery needs requires major adjustments in our programs for treatment and rehabitation, for our benefits and compensation programs.  The cause and effect has driven the case loads and delays out of sight at the expense of our wounded heroes.

The good news is that that there is a scramble going on to correct these problems as soon as possible. There are people in high places capable of fixing the problem that have a heart for our heroes and are working very hard to fix the problems.  There are people in our VA and in militray trauma centers that are just as frustrated as we are.  There is a continuum of care mentality for our soldiers starting at the battlefield and continuing through our VA system. There are programs under development to reduce the time required to make determinations before our heroes get the treatment and benefits they need.

The bad news is there are still more than 150,000 cases more than 6 months old among the pending 600,000 cases in the VBA system, and we have no idea how old these cases really are.  The GAO found that new programs designed to correct the problems are not yet fully off the ground and there are severe staffing problems in key places, both on the active duty side and the veteran side of the picture. It appears to me that some of it is due to needing to move physicians from one program to staff another, leaving both under staffed. 

(Download Here)

What the GAO found

Warrior Transition Unit

Challenges have emerged for staffing the Warrior Transition Unit in which servicemembers are assigned to three key staff – a physician care manager, a nurse care manager, and a squad leader. For example, as of mid-September 2007, over half the U.S. Warrior Transition Units had significant shortfalls in one or more of these critical positions. In addition the number of recovery coordinators and how many servicemembers each would serve have yet to be determined.

Transition Field Unit staffing

This table shows that in actuality we have only 35% perminent staffing for these teams.  More than 450 of the existing staff (19%) have been borrowed from elsewhere, likely reducing the staff, already short, in othere facilities.   The table below shows where those with less than 50% staffing are located. 

 Staffing problem locations

PTSD and TBI 

Three independent review groups examining the deficiencies found at Walter Reed identified a range of complex problems associated with DOD and VA’s screening, diagnosis, and treatment of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD, signature injuries of recent conflicts. Both conditions are sometimes referred to as “invisible injuries” because outwardly the individual’s appearance is just as it was before the injury or onset of symptoms. In terms of mild TBI, there may be no observable head injury and symptoms may overlap with those associated with PTSD. With respect to PTSD, there is no objective diagnostic test and its symptoms can sometimes be associated with other psychological conditions (e.g., depression).

TBI and PTSD chart
 
This table outlines what is being implimented (or planned) for handling TBI and PTSD better.   However, according to Army officials and the Independent Review Group report, obtaining qualified health professionals, such as clinical psychologists, is a challenge, which is due to competition with private sector salaries and difficulty recruiting for certain geographical locations. 

Data Sharing

In addition, the Dole-Shalala Commission noted that while VA is considered a leader in PTSD research and treatment, knowledge generated through research and clinical experience is not systematically disseminated to all DOD and VA providers of care.

Data Sharing

This table shows the efforts being taken to improve the data sharing between organizations. 

Disability Evaluations

As GAO and others have previously reported, providing timely and consistent disability decisions is a challenge for both DOD and VA. To address identified concerns, the Army has taken steps to streamline its disability evaluation process and reduce bottlenecks.   To address identified concerns, the Army has taken steps to streamline its disability evaluation process and reduce bottlenecks. The Army has also developed and conducted the first certification training for evaluation board liaisons who help servicemembers navigate the system. To address more systemic concerns, the Senior Oversight Committee is planning to pilot a joint disability evaluation system. Pilot options may incorporate variations of three key elements:

(1) a single, comprehensive medical examination;

(2) a single disability rating done by VA; and

(3) a DOD-level evaluation board for adjudicating servicemembers’ fitness for duty.

DOD and VA officials hoped to begin the pilot in August 2007, but postponed implementation in order to further review options and address open questions, including those related to proposed legislation.

Fixing these long-standing and complex problems as expeditiously as possible is critical to ensuring high-quality care for returning servicemembers, and success will ultimately depend on sustained attention, systematic oversight by DOD and VA, and sufficient resources.

You are invited to download and read the entire report here:  GAO Report (pdf – 32 pages)

Oldtimer

VA Stats at a Glance

VA Stats at a Glance

(As of 10-25-07)

VA Stats at a GlanceThe VA publishes what they call  “Stats at a Glance

They don’t say how often it is updated but it likely is monthly.  At least the one I found was updated on 10-25-2007,  just a few days ago.

If so, you can find and track current information on the statistics and demogrphics related to VA Benefits and Health Care Utilization in one easy to read, as they say, at a glance.

I wanted to post the entire paper and not just a thumbnail, but it is posted as a picture and the resolution was not sufficient for easy reading.

Most of the statistics are listed as of 9/30/07.   A few are as of FY 06 and FY 07.  I’m going to list a few of them here.  Click on the link above or on the thumbnail to see the latest data.

Veterans receiving VA Disability Compensation                2.8 million

Veterans rated 100% Disabled                                             249,904

Veterans receiving VA Pensions                                           303,242

 Spouses receiving VA DIC                                                     317,374 

Enrollees in VA Health Care                                                  7.9 million

Unique Patients                                                                       5.5 million

Veterans compensated for PTSD                                         299,672

Health Care Professionals rotating through VA (FYo6)   100,893

Total  number of Veterans                                                  23,532,000

Total Females  (7%)                                                                1,745,000

Number of WWII Veterans that die each day                           1,000

Number of veterans 65 or older (39%)                               9,177,000

By race:  White (non Hispanic)  80%   Hispanic 6%  Black (non Hispanic) 11% Other 4%

Number of VA Employees                                                        254,183

VA Funding   $ 80.2 Billion (not including VHA, VBA, NCA)

——————————————– 

Naturally I want to add a few stats of my own:  

Number of Heroes sleeping on the street every night:  195,000

(also check for similar data here

Number of Heroes homeless during the year (VA estimate)  400,000 

Percentage of all homeless males over 25 that are veterans 43%   (27% of all US males are veterans but 43% of the homeless males over 25 are veterans)

Amount allocated by VA to homeless veterans: $1.37 per day   (cup of coffee anyone?)

Grant money allocated by VA for homeless veterans  33 cents per day (Mints anyone?)

Overview of the homeless veteran problem 

Homeless Veterans are Heroes too!

Oldtimer

 

Effectiveness of Non-Profit Shelter Programs

Effectiveness of Non-Profit Shelter Programs

I’ve been looking at the following document:   NATIONAL SURVEY OF HOMELESS ASSISTANCE PROVIDERS AND CLIENTS (NSHAPC) which is  based on the US Census Bureau survey of 40,000 service providers in the US.    You can find a copy of it (about 70 pages) here 

Administrators of housing programs were asked where their clients went after leaving the program.   Administrators of housing programs tend to know where their clients go after leaving their program.    On average, administrators of faith-based housing programs know the destinations of about 75 percent of their unaccompanied individual clients and 90 percent of their family clients.  The corresponding figures for secular non-profit housing programs are 86 percent of unaccompanied individuals and 90 percent of families.

The top three destinations are the same irrespective of whether the client is alone or with children and whether the program is run by a faith-based or secular non-profit agency.  These destinations are (1) a family or friend’s housing, (2) private unsubsidized housing, and (3) government subsidized housing.

Successful transitions:
Where they went afterward……… Faith Based……. Secular…… (both are non profits. The figures below apply to individuals, not families)
1) Family or Friends housing……….17.6 ……………….25.1
2) Private Unsubsidized……………….21.6………………..17.7
3) government subsidized………….. 13.0………………. 14.3
4) transitional housing…………………. 9.7………………… 7.3
on average success…………………… 61.9………………. 64.6

Unsucessful transitions
5) The streets or other outside……12.7………………… 8.7
6) Other emergency shelter………. 11.6……………….. 8.9
7) Other (jail, hospital, etc)………… 13.8………………. 18.8

Arrow The above data (from Table 11 of the document) seems to show that Secular non-profits are slightly more effective than faith based non-profits in moving the homeless off the streets. and much more effective in putting homeless back into family or friends housing.

Arrow The success rate for either is slightly better than 60%. However, about 9 to 12% of individuals moving from shelter to shelter and another 9 to 12% going right back to the streets. For families, the rates are as follows:

Faith Based:……. 76.2% into housing of some type ……17.6% to street or other shelter
Secular:…………… 82.3% into housing of some type…….11.1% to street or other shelter

Arrow Secular programs seem to be doing somewhat better than Faith based programs for families and only slightly better for individuals.

Not the result I expected.

———————————

So What is the Difference in These Programs?

The earlier part of this post has some startling revelations – Secular run shelters seem to have an overall higher rate of success on all levels than comparable Faith-based run shelters. 

I’m going out on a limb here to stimulate thought and see where it takes us.

I’m assuming that both Faith Based and Secular shelters have essentially the same rules, at least as far as alcohol and drug use, curfews, and disorderly conduct, theft and other such behavior, particularly when spread out over 40,000 shelters in the survey. I’m also assuming that both Faith Based and Secular shelter administrators and staff are both caring, have good hearts, and run the shelters in a firm but loving manner.

So… What really is the difference?    

Continue reading

Homeless Veterans – Seldom Noted But All Around Us

A Sampling of Recent Articles

 Volunteers pamper homeless veterans

South Jersey:   Friday’s “Stand Down,” an annual outreach event, attracted nearly 120 homeless military veterans from around the region. And 250 volunteers helped provide them with assistance.  A lot of these people are hurting and they have needs,” said Thomas Weber, chairman of Stand Down of South Jersey Inc. — the organization which helped run the event. “It’s just care for your fellow human beings.”

Those who need help generally suffer from mental health issues, substance abuse and poverty. For many, the issues have become a reality of war. It’s believed that nearly 250,000 veterans are permanently homeless, Weber said.  _____________________________________________________

Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan could lead to more homeless vets
 

Memphis Tenn: They’ve fought in wars to keep us free and now that they’re home some veterans don’t have a place to lay their head. The guys lined up inside the auditorium at the Veterans Hospital in downtown Memphis are among more than 3,000 veterans in Tennessee who are homeless on any given night. Most suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and some turn to drugs for help.  (…)

The problem of homeless vets isn’t expected to get any better. In fact, the hundreds of thousands serving in Iraq it’s expected that the problem will get worse.  “Here today we’re seeing those from Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom that are among the homeless that have issues. And, I think the thing I look at and those of us who try to address this issue is how in the heck we can prevent it in the first place,” said John Keys, TN Dir. of Veterans Affairs.  _____________________________________________________________

Triad Stand Down aids homeless vets

GREENSBOROMore than 200 homeless veterans were at the North Carolina National Guard Armory in Greensboro, Friday, for the third annual Triad Stand Down.  (…)

“We’ve got vets that are 23, 24-years old that are homeless,” said Archie Barrow. “They get back, they’ve got problems and they can’t conform for whatever reason. I think sometimes the family turns their back on them and society turns their back because they have issues.”   Barrow says one homeless vet is one too many.  ___________________________________________________________

Helping veterans

Indiana HVAF of Indiana has been extending a helping hand to veterans and their families who are down on their luck for nearly 15 years. (…)   The group says there are as many as 900 homeless veterans in Marion County and more than 3,600 in Indiana, based on estimates by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

________________________________________________ 

Event seeks to aid homeless veterans

Akron Ohio: The second annual Summit County Stand Down for Homeless/Displaced Veterans 2007 will be held 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Firestone VFW Post 3383, 690 W. Waterloo Road, Akron.  (…)  During the first Stand Down last year, 205 (homeless) veterans came out, ranging in age from 23 to 81,

______________________________ 

Veterans allowed to `Stand Down’ 

San Jose Calif: Former Marine Joseph Martinez smiled warmly Sunday as he shoveled gravel out of a gutter at a retreat for homeless veterans in the Santa Cruz Mountains. (…) Over the weekend, (…), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tried to do for him, and nearly 200 other homeless vets, what was not done when they first came home – coordinate medical, legal and other services for those who served.________________________________________________

Homeless military veterans recieved weekend care in NE Phila

Philidelphia  Hundreds of homeless military veterans were fed hot meals and given medical exams and cots to sleep on for the weekend “Stand Down” at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia.  (…) Some veterans brought their wives and children to the three-day event.   “We served about 10 to 15 little kids today,” said Robert Sander, an Army reservist with the 338th Medical Brigade.

Oldtimer’s Comment:  Thank God for those who care!   The sad thing is that these are 1, 2 or in some cases 3 day events held once a year.  Much better than nothing, but very localized and serving only a small fraction of those in need.   Much more is needed. 

Homelessness among veterans is a much under reported problem.  If you look around there are only a few people in this country paying attention.  When something is done, it is a piddling little in the face of the problem.  43% of all homeless males are veterans.

Please read this overview of the problem

 And if you think this is a recent phenomenon then read this history of abuse.

Our VA is not doing it’s job.

Oldtimer

 

Home from Wars and Homeless

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! 

Oldtimer

Home from wars, yet homeless

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.

Homeless Kids and School

 Homeless Kids and School

 A Struggle, but Worth It.

There are 1.3 to 1.6 Million homeless kids on the streets of America in an average year.  It is not uncommon for many of these kids to go to school while living in cars, vans, in encampments, shelters, motels, hotels or with relatives while their parents (usually a single parent mom) are toughening it out with no stable place to call home.   Often they do live with that parent in conditions far less than desirable, but homeless nevertheless.

For the most part, homeless kids  have at least one shepherding parent and the entire family is homeless.   According to state departments of education across the country, 35% of homeless children lived in shelters, 34% were in group situations with family or friends, and 23% were in motels or other places in 2000.   Thankfully, these youngsters are guaranteed an education by this country, the good old USA.   

The McKinney-Vento Act applies to all children and youth who do not have a fixed, regular and adequate residence, including children and youth who are: staying with friends or relatives because they lost their housing; awaiting foster placement; or living in emergency or transitional shelters, motels, domestic violence shelters, campgrounds, inadequate trailer parks, cars, public spaces, abandoned buildings and bus/train stations.

Children and youth in homeless situations have the right to:

Go to school, no matter where they live or how long they have lived there;
Choose between the local school where they are living, the school they attended before they lost their housing, or the school where they were last enrolled;
Enroll in school without proof of residency, immunizations, school records, or other documents;
Get transportation to school;
Get all the school services they need;
Be free from harassment and isolation; and
Have disagreements with the school settled quickly.

The following story clipped in part from a news article (read the rest here) tells about the situation in only one state, Illinois.

—————————————————–

School system helps eliminate barriers between homeless, education

Sunday, August 5, 2007

By Holly Wagner

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

BETTY HAS BEEN living in Madonna House since October with her two teenage children. During the month she spent in jail, she lost her apartment and her children stayed with a relative.

“I think it’s been a struggle for them somewhat,” said shelter director Audra Hampton. “It’s sometimes embarrassing at that age. They don’t want anyone to know they are here. … But they seem settled.”

The youngsters have had to adjust to several transitions in the past year, but missing school has not been one of them. Under federal law, all children – whether they have a permanent address – are guaranteed an education.

This summer, the Illinois State Board of Education is working with the state’s shelters to eliminate the barriers homeless students face in getting access to public education.

ISBE data indicates 18,000 students in the state were homeless in 2006. Based on the 750,000 students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches, ISBE estimates that number is probably closer to 60,000.

The Regional Office of Public Education in Adams and Pike counties collects data on homelessness from its districts to forward to ISBE. During the last school year, the two counties reported that the homeless they served totaled eight in preschool, 45 in elementary school, four in middle or junior high school and nine at high school level, according to Jim Kaiser, the ROE’s school improvement coordinator.

“Every year the number has been going up,” he said. “We’re doing a better job of identifying those kids.”

These students face a range of problems, from finding a way to get to school, to having the appropriate clothing and finding a quiet place to study.

Each school district appoints a go-to person to work with the homeless. Quincy High School Principal Terry Ellerman is the liaison for Quincy schools.

Homeless families don’t always draw attention to their situation, Ellerman said. Sometimes the district finds out about homelessness from a social service agency or identifies it when a student registers.

School secretaries are often the front line in making that determination, noting when the address of a shelter, hotel or a post office box is given or no one is listed as a guardian.

“Home, if we were fortunate, is a place that provides stability in our thinking, it’s a place to feel safe,” said Assistant Superintendent Christie Dickens, formerly principal of Dewey School. “When a child is missing that element, there are a lot of things that could transpire … a lot of fearfulness and behaviors that are associated with that.

“Certainly that child would be somebody we would keep an attentive watch on to see if they needed some emotional support.”

The district helps match homeless families with social service agencies, Dickens said. One of Betty’s children is receiving counseling at Transitions of Western Illinois.

The district liaison helps these students enroll, whether they have transcripts from past schools; makes sure transportation does not prevent them from attending; and helps them to resolve disputes with the school system.

(Please read the rest of the story at the link above)

Oldtimer

Homeless Veterans – Recent Study

How Many Homeless Veterans Are There?

Unless otherwise noted, the data in this article came from: “Ending Homelessness Among Veterans Through Permanent Supportive Housing

The most recent estimate of the number of homeless veterans comes from the FY2005 report of the Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups (CHALENG) for Veterans.  

CHaling reports that the number of homeless veterans counted during the point in time count was 195,254.

The VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans may be homeless on any given night and 400,000 veterans experience homelessness during a year.

The National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (updated in 1999) found that  23% of all homeless clients and 33% of homeless men are veterans.   Compare that to the 2000 Census that estimates 12.7% of the general population are veterans.  Veterans are 2 to 3 times as likely to be homeless than the general population.

Characteristics of Homeless Veterans

• 45% suffer from mental illness
• 50% have substance abuse problems
• 67% served three or more years
• 33% were stationed in a war zone
• 25% have used VA Homeless Services
• 89% received an honorable discharge

Homeless Veterans vs. Non-Veterans

Homeless male veterans are more likely to be chronically homeless than homeless male non-veterans.  “32 percent of homeless male veterans report that their last homeless episode lasted 13 or more months, compared to 17 percent of male nonveterans.”

They are also more likely to abuse alcohol than homeless non-veterans.

Homeless veterans are better educated than homeless non-veterans, less likely to have never married, and more likely to be working for pay.

Why Do Veterans Go Homelessness?

A study of Vietnam-era veterans by Rosenheck and Fontana demonstrated that the two factors with the greatest effect on homelessness were 1) (lack of) support in the year after discharge from military service and 2) social isolation.

This is consistent with the results of a study by Tessler and Rosenheck which showed that homeless veterans experiencing the longest current episodes of homelessness were those who also had “behavioral risk factors with possible early onset, and those who were lacking in social bonds to civilian society that are normally conferred by employment, marriage, and support from family of origin.”

 Veterans Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

Initial data indicates rates of mental health disorders that could surpass those seen among Vietnam Veterans. A study by Charles Hoge et al found that:

19 percent of soldiers who served in Iraq screened positive for a potential mental health disorder, including PTSD compared with 11 percent for veterans of the war in Afghanistan. National Guard soldiers, one study found, were about 2 percentage points more likely to experience problems.

This is particularly distressing when coupled with the fact that among veterans “whose responses were positive for a mental disorder, only 23 to 40 percent sought mental health care” and the GAO finding that the “[Department of Defense] cannot provide reasonable assurance that OEF/OIF (Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom) servicemembers who need referrals receive them.”

Homeless Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan

Although many Vietnam veterans did not experience homelessness until 10-15 years after they left the service, homeless service providers are seeing veterans of OEF/OIF already. Social workers fear that “the trickle of stunned soldiers returning from Baghdad and Kabul has the potential to become a tragic tide.” Homeless OEF/OIF veterans themselves are saying “they [are] surprised how quickly they slid into the streets.”

Hypotheses for this quicker descent into homelessness include a tighter housing market than existed during the Vietnam era and a higher percentage of troops exposed to trauma during their service.

There Are Homeless Heroes Out There 

Foster Kids – Many face homelessness (1 in 5)

Many foster youths face a future of homelessness

You don’t usually associate foster kids with homelessness.  They are taken in, right?  They have foster parents to look after them, right?  It’s not like they are abandoned, right?   Well, not right at all.   The following story illustrates the problem when foster kids grow out of foster care.  There is that point, you see, where they no longer warrant payments to their parents for their care.  They age out and get a small payment (or none at all) that is supposed to get them a foothold in life as an adult.  But at 18, they are really still just kids.

By Sara Steffens, MEDIANEWS STAFF
Article Last Updated: 05/06/2007
Read the rest of this story hereWhen a foster youth becomes homeless, no one social worker, guardian or child welfare department is to blame. Like most states, California has failed to provide an effective safety net for the more than 4,000 children who age out of its foster care system each year.

In ordinary circumstances, young adults count on continued financial and emotional support from their families and are almost never completely on their own after turning 18. The average parent spends $44,500 on a child after he or she becomes an adult, “and that doesn’t include the kid being still in his room at home,” said Robert Fellmeth, executive director of Children’s Advocacy Institute, based at the University of San Diego School of Law.

By contrast, foster youths get a median of $5,000 in public support after aging out of care. “Most kids don’t get anything,” Fellmeth said. “Most kids get zero. (They get) ‘Hit the streets with your clothes in your trash bag.'”

One study says that at least one in five former foster children becomes homeless within a few years of becoming a legal adult. Other research, using broader criteria for homelessness, sets the figure as high as half. In recent years, a number of programs have begun trying to help better prepare foster children for independence.But public and volunteer services remain fragmented, sporadic and largely symbolic, Fellmeth said. “The problem is scale,” he said. “The problem is (lawmakers) want to feel good and not spend the money.” In the face of tough odds, some former foster youths do manage to finish their education and build productive lives, many with the help of service programs.

Foster kids are out there too

If you are interested in articles on homeless youth, there is a link to the right in the blogroll to all homeless youth articles.  For all my posts click on the Front Page link at the top.

FACT: 43% of Homeless Males Over 25 are Veterans!

Fact:  If military service were not a causal factor in veteran homelessness, only 27% of homeless would be veterans! 

In a previous post I’ve documented sources for several statistics relevant to homeless veterans.  The data in that post has been carefully researched and represent a significant improvement from my earlier attempts.  These new statistics include the percent of the total male homeless over 25 that are veterans (43%).    Let me present a couple of relevant charts for those of us who are more visually oriented.

US vs Veteran Population

The chart at the left shows that veterans make up 11.7% of the total US population 18 or older. 

 The figures are documented in the document linked above.

Our total population is 301.9 million and 74.6 percent of us are 18 or older, old enough to enlist.  That works out to be just over 225 million, male and female.

The veteran count, also documented in the link above, includes both wartime and peace time living veterans.

                                                                                                                                              

Male US Population vs VeteransThe chart at the left is the same except only the male populations are charted.  

I’ve chosen to use this chart as it more reasonably represents the age and demographics of homeless veterans. 

We also get to compare similar demographics between charts.   Less than 1% of veterans under 25 are homeless.  Less than 0.3% of homeless vets are women.

 The total US Male population 25 and older is 93,800,000.   The total male veterans 25 and older is 24,910,000.

Male Veterans Make Up 27% Of  Male Population Over 25.

                                                                                                                                                       

43% of Homeless Men Over 25 are Veterans!

25 and older male homeless vetsThe chart at the left shows that male homeless veterans make up 43% of the male homeless over 25.  The data is documented in the previous post link above.

If the homeless veterans were representative of the US male population, you would expect that the last two charts would look very similar. 

You would expect the male homeless veterans to represent about 27% of the homeless population

Veterans are grossly overrepresented  in the homeless population.

                                                                                                                                                

The Department of Veterans Affairs says this about the homeless veterans:

Although many homeless veterans served in combat in Vietnam and suffer from PTSD, at this time, epidemiological studies do not suggest that there is a causal connection between military service, service in Vietnam, or exposure to combat and homelessness among veterans.”

The VA Claims “No Causal Connection To Service”

OK, I think the charts above put the lie to that statement.  If there were no causal relationship, the homeless veterans would total less than 123,000 instead of the 200,000 that are homeless on any given night and the pie charts would look essentially the same.  It is my opinion that PTSD and substance abuse problems acquired while in service play a major role in the lives of homeless veterans.  

The VA goes out of its way to try to acquit PTSD and combat service as causal effects.  Why do that do that?  Why even bring it up at all?  Could it be that they know that military service is a factor to homeless veterans (big time)  but do not want to pay for it?  Smoke screens that try to let us believe they have considered those things and found them not a factor?   Well….  something is a factor and it is time the VA took its head out of the sand!

I call on our Congress to get to the bottom of this and fix it. 

These are men and women that put on uniforms and took up arms in service to our country and so far our country has been too cheap to treat them as the Heroes that they are.

Oldtimer:  Click for All Homeless Veteran Posts.  

National Stats for Runaway Youth

The National Runaway Switchboard provides education and solution-focused interventions, offers non-sectarian, non-judgmental support, respects confidentiality, collaborates with volunteers, and responds to at-risk youth and their families 24 hours a day.    Call 1-800-RUNAWAY
National Runaway Switchboard http://www.nrscrisisline.org/
(Statistics reflect only actual crisis calls – nationwide)
Adult calls ….. 1038
Youth calls …..15126
Total calls ….. 16164
Youth Status at Time of Call

    Contemplating running away…..12%
    Youth in crisis ………………..32%
    *Runaway ………………..48%
    *Throwaway ………………..4%
    *Homeless ………………..4%
    **Youth on the street ….. 56%

Reported Age Of Caller

    under 12 …..1%
    12 ………. 2%
    13 ………. 6%
    14 ………. 9%
    15 ………. 15%
    16 ……….21%
    17 ……….23%
    18 ……….10%
    19 ……….. 6%
    20 ……….. 4%
    21 ………. 3%
    Youth previously run (yes) …. . 32%
    youth previously run (no) ………. 44%
    unknown ………………………………..24%

Problems Identified by Callers

    Family Dynamics ..29%
    Peer/Social ……………… 14%
    School/Education ……..10%
    Mental Health …………. .. 9%
    Physical Abuse ……… … 6%
    Youth Services ……….. . . 5%
    Alcohol/Drug Use …… …5%
    Economics ……………….. 4%
    Emotional/Verbal Abuse 4%
    Judicial System ………….3%
    Transportation ……………….3%
    Health ………………………… 3%
    Sexual Abuse/Assault …..2%
    Neglect ……………………………2%
    GLBTQ …………………………..1%

Whereabouts of Youth Who is the Subject

    Home ………………….29%
    Unknown to Caller ….. 23%
    Friend ……………………..17%
    Relative ……………………..6%
    Street/Pay Phone ………6%
    Shelter ……………………..3%
    Other …………………………3%
    Unknown to Liner ……..3%
    Greyhound ………………..2%
    Recent Acquaintance …2%
    Police/Detention …………2%
    School ………………………..2%
    Work ……………………………1%
    Pimp/Dealer ………………..1%

(Example) Calls from Georgia, local area codes follow
Area ………….calls
Code
404 GA ….. 1053 calls in 2006
678 GA ……..320
770 GA ……. 578

Click for All Homeless Youth Articles