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 

35 responses to “Homeless Veterans – Recent Study

  1. Oldtimer, I would like to talk with you about your blog. I LOVE IT and I think you’re doing a great service here. Could you email me at tarra @ ndpatriotguard.org (no spaces)? I wish to use some of your blog on my website, if that would be okay with you….


  2. Cool site. As a homeless vet I had seen your stats before.

  3. The homeless female veteran population is raising because of untreated PTSD_MST. Check the Reno Womens Veterans Summit November 2006. Debra-UNITED WOMEN WARRIOR FEMALE VETERAN SUPPORT GROUP

  4. Hello Debra,

    I had a little trouble finding it but here is the best link I’ve found to a news article:
    Women Forge Ahead in War Zone and as Veterans


    and for PTSD MST (Miltary Sexual Trauma)

    I just today posted a video on the subject including one for MST.

    Thank you for dropping by. Do you have a web site for your support group? – I could not find it under that title.


  5. whats up oldtimer? great story

  6. DIDNT know if i told you found my brother barry phillip arington police arrested him in vegas for trespasing in park and jay walking then gave him the boot after a few days and set a court date will he appear???? dec11 court date lets see homeless no money???? please you tell me fine system they have top it all hes supposed to be on meds but hasnt been able to correct his assistants from goverment welfare etc,can you immagine appreciate any imput strapped myself dowm in omaha nebraska

  7. He needs to appear if still in town or plans on coming back anytime, as Vegas can make warrent for arrest for not appearing and that will be worse than first charges which are likely to be dismissed with some conditions. They will likely send him to a social service organization for help. There or in jail he will be better off than on the streets in winter, but Barry likely does not agree with that, certainly not jail, but I know of homeless that do minor infractions because warmer, better food in jail, and hot showers, no costs.

    Vegas is a really tough town to be homeless in. It is illegal for someone to feed the homeless in the park or on public land. The mayor is quoted as saying that homeless that carry signs saying “will work for food” should be sued for “false advertizing”.

    Tough town to be down and out as they kick you every chance they get in hopes you will move on.

    Glad you found him. Write the court, maybe the prosecuter, even the mayor, and ask them how you can help. They might put him on a bus and send him your way, prepaid.

    I might do a story on Vegas and the homeless. I’ve done several before – not that it did any good.


  8. If a non veteran has a beer after work, Miller Time. If a veteran wants a beer after work, full blown alcoholism and needs treatment for life and thrown to the gutter unless he converts to the 12 step religion of misery and poverty.

  9. The lawmakers are illegal. They will torture the homeless for breaking unconstitutional laws, but now days the lawmaker’s laws are not valid. Ignore them and fight for our rights!

  10. sistahsoldiersistahvet

    Your site is great! Thank you for being a real patriot! Women vets with children are quickly becoming the face of homelessness in America!I have been homeless 4 times and it was the result of being poor, and severly disabled! Our cases are not being adjudicated fairly and we cant afford the rising cost of utilities, rent, food, and transportation. Many of us are too disabled to work and the VA knows it. Women veterans are falling through the cracks because we often arent eligable for social programs because of our VA compensation. However, we are often poorer than most families on welfare. I would like to post some of your writings on my blog. Please email me at (…)

    Many thanks for having the courage to expose the truth!Sistahvet

  11. thank you sistahsoldiersistahvet!

    I will email you. I’ve removed it in the comment above.

    Let me know what blog you have and I will add it to my blogroll.


  12. They say :

    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

    What the government is going to do with the homeless with the country in a recession? The situation was already bad before…and nothing has been done to solve the situation!

    In the country I am living now you do not see many homeless vets on the streets, there are many soup kitchens, hospitals, pshychologists, job offers after a training program, warm beds to sleep at night, friendly treatment. In US there are so many abandoned on the streets, starving, dying every winter, what a shame!!!

    Do something before is too late, they gave their blood for the country!!! And look the middle class having their houses foreclosured by huge banks, sharks in real estate, people being bankrupt every day, including the ones in the military, kids in bad, unreliable public schools being bullied and attacked,

    Sorry my American dream is gone. Wake up, America!!

    All the blessings, Perez.

  13. What is with all this treatment everyone needs. Decent housing, a trade, and job is what works. I have seen the homeless vets go through years of treatment programs and are still on the streets when they finish. Why no dignified housing and training? Also the treatment programs are like prison protocols, that doesn’t work for criminals, why would it work for vets?

  14. OLD TIMER you got quite a site you should have some fun and see how many people would vote for you if you were running for president! .Ibet you would get some top billing/still nothing new on my brother barry p aringtonSOMEDAY HOPEFULLY ILL HERE SOME GOOD NEWS TAKE CARE GREAT SITE GOT MY VOTE IF YOUD RUN.

  15. Were you not able to contact him in Vegas? I’ m sorry.

    Prsident? Not any way, shape or form would I be able to do that! Your vote would likely be the only one. Thanks anyway for the thought, you made my day.

  16. concernedinStLouis

    I’m glad I found your blog. I drive by a man 2-3 days a week who has a “homeless vet, will work for food” sign. I am not like some people, who assume that everyone with these signs is a scam artist. I’d rather give people the benefit of the doubt. What I’d like to know is, what is the best thing I can do to help him? I can’t drive by him anymore and not do anything – but I don’t want to do something that enables him to continue to scam people (if that is the case, and lots of people here say he is not legitimate) or that would not be a step towards real help (am I being naive, maybe he doesn’t want to go to a shelter?). Should I give him info about shelters? Call a shelter and tell them he’s there? Is money the best thing to give, or go to the grocery store and get him some fruit and healthy food? I am a female driving by myself, and although I’m sure he really needs help and wouldn’t hurt me, I also want to be mindful of my safety. Thank you for your concern – I’ve been searching the web and many of the blogs I found are about how the homeless should get a job and stop whining. Yours is a breath of fresh air.

  17. Hi, concernedinStLouis

    The man with the sign has a few things he is hoping for. He says that he desires work and food and yes, he likely is a veteran. He is expecting most that drive by to have neither and he knows that sometimes they offer money. He will certainly accept donations of money or food. He may have a few stop that are out looking for someone to help with a construction, landscaping, or other day labor job.

    I suspect that the job aspect is not his primary goal, but hopefully he won’t turn anything down.
    Money is always good and we can’t eat ourselves up with guilt by giving money, no matter what he does with it. He does have to eat, and he probably has to buy bus tickets from time to time and take care of toiletries, etc. Yes, some may go to booze, but most goes to food.

    All the homeless I know of know all about the shelters, what each offers, which are good, which are bad, which are full etc. The problem is that the good ones are always full, and the bad ones are generally very undesirable for some good reason in their minds. Others just cannot use a shelter due to past violations that ban them or due to rules they can’t abide by.

    As a safety precaution, and as a lone female, do not stop and offer a ride or converstaion alone. If he is not who he says he is, you could be gone in a second. Better to go with a friend and offer to meet him at a nearby coffee shop if you want to talk.

    If you have a friend that needs help with yardwork or day labor, you might do them both a favor and ask him to drive by and see if he is really interested in working for food.

    He is quite likely to be a real veteran. Often I hear people say that someone in not a veteran as an excuse for their own lack of helping. It may well be that he can’t document the fact. The two we are working with were totally undocumented when we first met them.

    I don’t see that veterans get that much extra help on the street, but it does help some. A non veteran claiming to be a veteran may get a few patriotic individuals attention, but in general, they cannot get any real benefits without the proper paperwork and that is a very time consuming task.

    For example, we have been working with two veterans through our church ministry to get their papers in order so that they can get VA help. So far we have gone 4 or 5 months and only one of them last week got their paperwork.

    The other is held up over a birth certificate, still waiting near baby step one, but the VA acknowledges he is a veteran, but they still need to get all the t’s crossed etc.

    For long term help in getting off the street, you might talk to a local social worker and see if she/he would agree to take the time to invite him to a sandwich or coffee shop and determine what can be done or if he is ready. In our case we worked with Al and Perry for weeks before Al finally realized he really could get off the streets if he got his VA documentation and then be elgible for transitional housing. Up until then, he was sure he would someday just die in the woods somewhere and was resigned to that fact, even said he “liked it there” – he didn’t really. He really did not know of the VA programs for the homeless.

    Bless you for caring about the homeless.

    Grace and peace,


  18. concernedinStLouis

    Thank you so much for your response. I already feel better knowing that I can do something – and I promise I’ll be careful. I’ll get my brother to go with me and we’ll bring some food next time I see him. I also talked to an aquaintance who is a social worker in Ohio, and she told me to see if there is a homeless coalition here that will go check on him and see if he wants to go to a shelter, although she said the same thing you did. He probably knows about the shelters and for one reason or another doesn’t want to/can’t go. I’ll be looking into that in the next day or so. I’ll keep you updated on what happens and thank you again.

  19. mike arington

    SOrry i didnt get back sooner i thought i told you they cut him loose from jail barry p arington my brother set a court date whoopy if hes arrested againthey throw him in the jail out of town and not a very nice one at that funny that vegas comes down with heppatitis and the numbers almost coinside with the number of homeless now watch mayor goodmen will try to put some blame on homeless and not the facts of somebody in medical field reuseing syringes back to my brother barry p arington hes 49 brown curly hair maybe with beard if not on meds he might talk about things like radiation or hes used to work for tonapaw test range as a laborer and was hurt working if someone comes in contact with him email me just say hes ok or if he needs help maybe theres a shelter i could call or email anything appreciated the police department was not a lot of help with the exception of one person they cant give a lot of personal info or let you talk to themif in jail??laws and regs ya know ?? quite a system we got what people helped build this fine society we have where are they now omahas concentrating more on a ball field right now more than anything spending rather than addresing homeless issues and building walk bridges across our river WOW well at least they homeless or people wont get run over on interstate anymore im going on to much maybe obomma or hallery might do something manditory guide lines hmmmm good by for now .KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK OLD TIMER!!!!

  20. I went to donate new clothing at a veteran shelter. I was shocked as I was giving the veterans standing around outside new Levis and Shirts. Some staff member came outside and told me all the clothes have to come inside to be inventoried and all the men I gave clothes to already had to give them to the staff member. Then one man said it was because the staff take all the clothes for themselves and leave the homeless veterans rags. I saw this with my own eye because the veterans were dresses shabby like. I told the guy no and these are my clothes and will give them out. The man then threatened all the guys with clothes with eviction if they did not turn in the clothes. This needs to be investigated.

  21. I was once called “DOC/Corpmen” and now I’m a civilian that was once Homeless herself. Now a group of Vets have made it our MISSION to get involved with saving our own. Contact HEROES to HOMETOWN; PH#619-791-6694 ask for SUNNY FERRAND; he’s a well known person up in Sacramento for helping Vets get back on their feet or find the medical, or housing assistance they deserve. He has a world of resources to draw from so don’t be ashamed to ask. He’s my buddy and “WE WON’T LET GO!!!! TILL YOUR OKAY!!!!”

  22. mike arington

    STILL NO SIGN OF BARRY PHILLIP ARINGTON if you see him have him contact his brother mike or sister patty at marington@unmc.edu thanks.

  23. Cathy, homeless veterans are always given the shaft. The worse thing for homeless veterans is the homeless agencies release the veteran’s medical records to the world. Look at all the homeless agencies websites; they spew “All our clients are severly mentally ill & addicted. What’s with that? They have Poisoned these HEROES beyond belief.

  24. my wife found some info on my brother barry phillip arington he has a po box in virginia now havent been able to get it but were still trying i here they have major grant money in place to get homeless of the streets leastwise i know hes still thinking thats got to be a good sign any ideas on getting a po box adress?

  25. called social security in virginia hopefully some one can tell me something about my brothers where abouts or if hes getting help.


    Sometimes it’s scary being a Veteran, especially a female with a child. If you have ‘ptsd’ and your suffering from multiple health problems, it’s difficult to trust. We’re taught in basic training to survive with very little and the rest of society doesn’t realize that. We are taught to live out in the woods, the desert with little or nothing, and then we’re thrown out into the real world with that same mentality. Unfortunately, alot of us don’t let go of that “Under the Stars” mentallity.


  27. well just thought idd let you know again found barry p arington we got a call from mental hospital in pourtorico? any way he has know identification but got treatment with hospital and a homeless shelter he thinks he lost his birth certificate at tampas airport? now we have to figure out a way to get him some identification ideas suggestions he got himself in a plckle this time

  28. foung barry phillip arington don in sanjuan poterico hes getting help i think still just though idd let you know old timer hope he stays warmer than here!

  29. hello oldtimer, when i found your web site i was thrilled my husband is a vet and we are on the streets here in miami and we hate it our travel trailer sets in a friends backyard and we caqn’t live in it and our jeep needs minor repairs and we can’t find any help anywhere to get back home.

  30. I love what you are doing here! What a heart you have. Bringing the world of the Veterans to the light of day for all to see! God bless you! These heroes deserve the very best we can give… yet…they receive so little. We must do anything we can to stop this travesty! Keep up the great work.

  31. When are honest hard working vets going to unite to get what is due them?

  32. I was at the local Stand Down and there was no housing available for the homeless vets. One veteran stood up and yelled “Where is the housing, I’ve already been through 6 drug and alcohol programs and I still don’t drink or use drugs and never have” That said it all!

  33. Oldtimer,
    Thank you for all your hard work.

  34. Hey old timer, think your blog is very informative ..I started a small charity in the Uk to help homeless vets, so do realise how they suffer.. Keep up the good work my friend, it’s only with people like yourself that can make others aware and maybe help those that are down after giving all for their country

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