Homeless Veterans – Facts, Links and the Numbers

Published Statistics Vary Greatly 

I’ve seen a lot of statistics that vary from source to source all over the place.  Most of them not referencing their source, many of them not being specific on the definitions or the exact group being cited.  I’m going to attempt to put down some numbers that come from trusted sites and clarify the statistics as best I can.    Links are to sources.  We will try to make sense of these numbers in a later post – stay tuned.

The total population of the United States: 

As of May 19, 2007: 301,875,007.  Source US Census Population Clock.  If the number above doesn’t agree it is because we have a net gain of one person every 11 seconds.  

By Census Bureau sex and age, 49% are male, 51% female, 74.6% (225,200) are 18 or older, 48% (114,900,000) male over 18, 52% female over 18.   The total male population over 25 is 92,800,000 men.

The total population of veterans:

 (Includes Peacetime Veterans): 26,403,000, of which 24,810,000 are men and 1,593,000 are women as of census 2000. 

The total population of wartime veterans:  

(Wartime Only):  19,157,000 of which  18,073,000 are men and 1,084,000 are women as of 2004.   

Veterans under age 25:   0.8% (153,000) are men and 0.3% (58,000) are women.

Total estimated spending for veterans:

 (Dollars in 2004):  $62.0 Billion for 2004 ($234 per veteran).

Where veterans Served:

By Service 2002 :  WWII 4,762,000;   Korean 3,733,000; Vietnam 8,293,000; Persian Gulf War 3,573,000;  Peacetime 6,461,000.  

Homeless veterans:

There are 200,000 homeless veterans on any one day, up to 400,000 during any year; 97% of the homeless veterans (194,000) are male, and 3% (6,000) female on any one day.  These are the VA’s best estimates.  No one is really counting.  56% (112,000) are African American or Hispanic.  

Of these 45% (86,000) suffer from mental illness and (with considerable overlap) 73% (146,000) suffer from alcohol and substance abuse. 

Total US homeless population:  

2005 Estimate:  Approximately 744,313 people homeless on a single night.  This includes 56% in shelters, 44% unsheltered; 59% single adults, 41% in families (98,452 families counted); 23% chronically homeless (171,200 disabled and long term or repeatedly homeless ).   The 172,000 chronically homeless use up 50% of the services. 

Of the total homeless population, 66 % (491,000) are males;   93% (456,700) of homeless males are 25 or older;  41% (201,000) of the males are employed as compared to 27% (68,300) of females.

Calculated Results: 

43% of homeless males 25 and older are veterans.   How do I arrive at that value?   The number of homeless males 25 and over is 456,700 and the number of homeless male veterans is 194,000.   I beleive this is as valid as the counts that make up the data.   There are less than 1% veterans under 25 and about 0.3% homeless women veterans.      

27% of all males over 25 are veterans but 43% of all homeless males are veterans.   There is a disconnect here, the percentages should be about the same.   This 27% calculation uses 24,910,000 male veterans 25 and over and 92,823,000 US males 25 and over.    

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13 responses to “Homeless Veterans – Facts, Links and the Numbers

  1. I’ve seen a lot of homeless vets and maybe seen less that five who were alcoholic/druggies. Oh…if an adult man want to drink a beer after a long hard day of day labor that does not mean he has an alcohol addiction!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Actually the 194,000 that the VA published comes from no calculated source either. Upon trying to cross reference any data that they claimed to have referenced from, HUD has seemingly, nor has HHS either published any such number that can be found. When you cross reference the decline to 192,000 from 2003 to 2004 there is also no data from any other agency with any data except the data from the VA to congress. It is bizaare that no data that VA seems to attribute from any other agency seems to match what it tells congress or that congress bothers to check. http://wanderingvets.blogspot.com

  3. The problem is that the VA can tell Congress anything they want and no one will question them because they are the “authority”.

    The root of the problem is this. The VA has no organized way to count the homeless and they know that the number that show up at the VA is only a fraction of the population out there and they have no funds to organize a count. HUD does at least have something organized and funded through their point-in-time counts.

    HUD’s count is always lower than the VA’s estimate. So the VA has decided to use their count and the initial result was a huge drop in the numbers.

    HUD however, farms it out to various volunteer organizations such as the one we are participating in here. They do give a few hours training, but veterans often do not volunteer their veteran status to the volunteers and the volunteers often do not ask. The volunteers from last year were thankful to find anyone at all and merely counted males and females and children. The ones in our organization found only one veteran. However, two showed up at our church last Sunday for a meal at the suggestion of one of our members. (We are trying to help get their VA cards as they did not have one).

    Believe me, a non-homeless volunteer is not going to ask any more questions than absolutely necessary when standing in the woods talking to a group of homeless men and women when one of them is being disruptive (Bipolor, substance abuse, or just angry, whatever) and threatning and nightfall is only an hour or so away. Any veterans in the group that don’t volunteer their status is just counted homeless and is not counted as a veteran.

    The result is nobody gets good data beyond how many homeless of each gender they found. Much of the count comes from the shelters and as you well know and have said, many veterans do not enjoy or use the shelters. You are more resourceful and independent.

    The count is bad. Just plain bad. The huge drop that was due to the way they changed their count methods and who did it. The VA has been turned that around as a positive – “ook how much we have achieved in the last 5 years” Actually it has gone up but they use the disjoint in the count as a positive.

    Wanderingvet: Let us know what you find out about how the Stand Down people go about estimating the homeless veterans in Nashville, what they think about the count overall, etc.

    I Hope your trip has completed successfully and safely. Tale Care. Stay out of Pilot. (They wrote me a form letter unresponsive to the complaint, by the way – asked me to come back and visit)


  4. Do you every work with some one that for money can put up one or two VA man or woman? I do not have the money not to get room and board.We are booth disabled with low income. but have a big home for just us.We have two serves dog. I can not have ones that will get drunk or stile from us. I am a VFW member post 5096
    Thank You


    I’ve edited out your last name, address, email and phone number. I don’t recommend that you go about it this way. Firstly, I’ve not worked with anyone that has rented rooms in this manner, but what you are doing is very honorable and shows a right heart even though you need some money for the room rental to cover your costs.

    However, the internet is just full of people that would love to exploit your offer and would be willing to scam you over with glee. I would contact someone locally, probably through United Way and get their advice as to who to contact and how to go about it, or maybe the nearest VA clinic or VA hospital if there is one nearby. You need to also check with your local zoning codes. Around here, you can rent to only one unrelated person and then only in certain properly zoned areas of town. As a hardship, you may be able to get a varience.

    By the way, the most common scam is for someone to offer a large check for say 6 months in advance, but overpay so that they get some money back. Do not accept this enticing offer!!!! The so called “certified” check will bounce in 15 or 20 days and then you will be out the amount that you gave/sent back. You just cannot trust people over the internet, nor trust the bank to know the check is a fake, even if drawn on their bank. The last one that tried that with me was a so called NY lawyer that offered a year in advance, but wanted to send a certifed check for 2 years, would only use the house 1 day a month and offered to paint it before he left. I didn’t even reply, he wanted the 2d year refunded by money order right away. Banks take up to 20 days to find out a certified check is a forgery after they credit your account, then they can and will back charge you for the loss. Please don’t send full address info over the internet.


  5. You have a very informative site I enjoy your Love
    and Concern for our Veterans and people in Gen-
    eral. May God Bless you always. I may be contacting you regarding Homeless Veterans in
    Atlanta. We are trying to open a Veterans Office
    in Atlanta to help assist with job rediness, training,
    and what ever is needed to help get back to normal. Take care!!!


  6. How does one even begin to look for a missing vet? My brother, a disabled Viet Nam vet, disappeared in 1988, a few miles away from me near Sacramento. Police suspected ‘foul play’ but never any clues. I remember he felt safe living in the woods for months at a time. It is over 20 years now. He left behind his guitar and I play often to remember him. Any clues from anyone?. I have tried many avenues to no avail. The articles on this website are interesting. Thank you.

    • Patty,

      Go to TheVeteransAdvocacy.com and fill out the form that is there OR send an email; a consultant will respond back to you.

  7. Dear OldTimer,

    I am a filmmaker with a new film about a homeless veteran. Te movie is starting to attract some attention and I’m hoping to use that attention to inform people on ways they can help. The problem is that there are various organizations that say they help but many appear to either be unorganized or out-right scams. I’ve recommended “Stand Downs” but those are infrequent. Do you have any recommendations for ways to help homeless and jobless veterans?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    You can contact me directly through the website:

  8. Another year gone by and hundreds of thousands of veterans ARE STILL HOMELESS & Billions of tax dollars are lining the POVERTY PIMP’S pockets!


  9. Matthew Roberts

    I am currently writing a research paper on homeless veterans for a college english course. I am wondering how to properly reference the Oldtimer.

  10. Several states coordinate Stand Downs to connect marginal and homeless vets with service organizations to assist them, in one location. Check out what your state has, take the opportunity or VOLUNTEER. Kansas City metro has thier’s in June and November, the site will give you more info.

  11. Dear Sir;
    I am new to this site and would like to first commend you on the information that you are giving out. A few years ago I was homeless, jobless , and divorced. I went to Boston to The New England Shelter for Homeless Vets. I was one of the fortunate ones because I do not have an addiction to alcohol or drugs or receive medication for other issues. I was able to get back on my feet in 6 months because of the strict guidelines they have at the shelter. They treat you with firmness,fairness dignity and compassion and for those who want to move forward the opportunities are there. For those who dont then they only continue the revolving door of life. I would recommend this shelter to all veterans that want to take the steps to become successful and find the help that they may need. I have learned that being positive and finding the answers to questions is the only option that I live by. Although I am unemployed at the moment I have just taken action to start a Small landscaping business to supplement my income. Thanks Again!! Semper Fidelis! Gary

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