Tag Archives: Vietnam

Stand Down for Homeless Veterans – Latham, NY

Stand Down lifts up homeless and needy veterans

TV News Article: See article and video here 

LATHAM, NY– Wars may change but the needs of those who return from the fighting do not. Hundreds of veterans from Vietnam, the first Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq are expected to attend the 18th Annual Stand Down for Homeless Vets this weekend. 300 veterans who are homeless or close to being homeless will be matched with services that can, hopefully, get them back on track.

Larry Turner’s windowless office is where the 55 year old does the work that pays his bills and puts food on his table.  “I just love my job a lot. It just has to do with giving back,” he said

Turner helps veterans down on their luck find employment and a place to live for the Albany Housing Coalition. It’s more than a job, because on and off for ten years, Turner himself, was homeless. The former Marine served his country in Vietnam but when he returned, things just weren’t the same.

“Not knowing is scary. You don’t know who to turn to. I mean you are really up against the wall,” said Turner.  That wall turned into an open door for Turner two years ago at the Capital District Veterans Stand Down. It’s a one stop-shop where vets can find jobs and job training, clothes, food, housing and receive free medical help and life counseling.

“These are what makes you and I free, that makes America what it is. They’ve just fallen on hard times for a little bit and we’re hoping they can regroup and we can send them back to the community,” said Stand Down organizer Doug Williams.

The community vets like Larry Turner want to be a part of. Some just need a little assistance.   “They serve their country, as I did. And it’s only right that we help those who are less fortunate,” he said.

The Stand Down is completely free for veterans. It runs from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday October 13 at the Colonie Elks on Elks Road, just off of Rt. 155 in Latham.

Oldtimer’s comment:  Stand Downs are important as they bring out homeless veterans that otherwise don’t seek services, and are often outside of the VA radar.  Like Larry Turner, many do get help through the services and opportunities presented in Stand Downs.  

The only drawback is these Stand Downs are often held, at most, once a year in any given area and they occur in different places at different times of the year and the window of opportunity is short – in this case only 5 hours.  They need to be held regularly, at least quarterly, and on a fixed schedule across the country.  If a veteran knew that Stand Downs were held on the first Saturday of every 3d month across the country, they would know when to show up wherever they are.

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 

The New Homeless

The New Homeless

We see them from time to time on our streets… We hear about the difficulties they face in life. They are America’s homeless. But, did you know, that the man or woman traveling from shelter to shelter could in the past have been serving our country and protecting the freedoms we enjoy? How do they face the future of unknowns?

Find this story on this station
Jerry Brown
News 13 on your side
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

News 13 looks at “The New Homeless”.

Homeless Veteran“Just being a young man…seeing guys disappear…not being confirmed dead,” recalls Patrick Doyle on his days in the Vietnam War. Gulf War Vet John Powell says, “things don’t tend to go the way their planned during war. People get crazy…you end up seeing things you wouldn’t normally see.” Nilsson Riley from most recently in Iraq comments, “one of my best friends got killed…was trying to save his life. My first sergeant got killed.”

United States military veterans. from three different wars. They well know the extreme, emotional experience of serving our country in time of armed conflict. And the uncertainties. And for some, when their tour of duty is over…the return to civilian life isn’t always easy. Obstacles they face are too difficult to overcome. Before they know it, they find themselves walking the streets…without a job and, without a place to call home.

The U-S Department of Veteran’s Affairs says there are approximately 20-thousand homeless vets in the state of Florida. The V-A also says at least 1700 homeless veterans are in the Gulf Coast region from Port St. Joe west to Biloxi, Mississippi. “When I got to the airport I got spit on…called a baby killer. No parade to come back to. That was one of the roughest parts for me,” says Vietnam veteran Patrick Doyle. Homeless since 2003, Doyle says in the years after the war his life only got worse. Doyle says Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is what he deals with every single day. That is also the case for other homeless veterans facing PTSD, along with drug and alcohol addiction. Gulf War homeless vet John Powell says, “that kind of stuff brought me to my knees, losing your wife and my kids…integrity. Nilsson Riley, who served with the U-S Army in Iraq says, “I got a job and had to go on med leave… because the problems and meds from V-A required to take to cope with PTSD.”

Getting Help

But, these veterans in Panama City have found help and at the same time…hope. The Homeless Veterans Emergency Administration is Bay County’s first homeless vet’s program. It is a relatively new facility that serves not only as a temporary shelter, but also a source of helpful assistance. Deborah Hanley is the administrator. She says, “we always pray for them in church…when they are in war. When they come home, we forget about them.”

At this shelter, homeless veterans get the helping hand to put them back on track…information about jobs or medical care. But, in this trying time in life…is the government really offering the help they need? John Powell says, “when we are asked to go and fight and no questions asked if we have issues that are evaluated as having issues that need to be tended to…service related…I think the government should step up.” One place that offers help is the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic.

It is located at the Naval Support Activity Panama City. Dr. William Michels is the director of the clinic. He says, “started six years ago with 3 employees built up to 30 now…each brings something special to offer vets. I am sure the money will be increased to handle this increased demand.” Dr. Michels says one big problem is that the homeless vets and sometimes…veterans in general don’t take advantage of what is offered.

Heroes are out there too

Click for all Homeless Veterans posts

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.  

Homeless Veterans – Facts By 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.    

Stay tuned – work in progress – this post will be updated and a new post will massage and chart these numbers

Click for All Homeless Veterans Articles