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Homeless Veterans Causes and Effects Essay

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Updated: Apr 3rd, 2020

Today, there are significant numbers of veterans who are homeless in the United States. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that homeless veterans are between “130,000 and 200,000 on any given night, which represent between one-fourth and one-fifth of all homeless people” (National Coalition for the Homeless 1). Also, many veterans still struggle with high rates of rents. This situation increases veterans’ risks of becoming homeless.

Further, there might be possible concerns for veterans in other related areas. For instance, women veterans, veterans with disabilities, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injuries face high risks of becoming homeless in the future. It is important to note that many veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan already indicate such symptoms (National Coalition for the Homeless 1).

At any given night, over 131,000 veterans are homeless while a significantly higher number may experience homelessness within the year (National Coalition for the Homeless 1). There is at least one homeless veteran among three homeless persons. In short, nearly 40 percent of homeless people are veterans.

However, this figure fluctuates as different organizations provide different figures. Overall, the fact remains that the number of veterans is on the increase, and it is imperative to understand how heroic, daring, strong soldiers slip into retirement of homelessness. Therefore, this essay explores the underlying causes of homelessness among veterans.

Veterans have to endure adverse impacts of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In some cases, they may experience traumatic brain injuries alongside sexual trauma. War experiences drive veterans to lives of exclusion and isolation.

Consequently, they are prone to outdoor and unsheltered lives. The drive to live outdoor lives could result in long-term, chronic homelessness among many veterans (Leatham 1). In addition to stress disorders and brain injuries, many veterans could also experience other mental conditions. Mental problems are partially responsible for homelessness among many veterans.

In some cases, the need for seclusion may drive veterans away from home or any support. This results from traumatic war experiences. Also, veterans may fail to get any support from psychologists. Such mental conditions may also result in joblessness among veterans with the outcome of homelessness.

A closely related risk to mental condition is substance abuse among veterans. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council notes that several veterans struggle with challenges of substance abuse and alcoholism. Such problems are common during and after the periods in the military service.

Studies conducted by various organizations among veterans have shown that substance abuse was a major risk factor for homelessness (Copeland and Zoroya 1). Substance abuse challenges have facilitated veterans’ risks of becoming homeless because many veterans would like to remain secluded when struggling with substance abuse challenges.

Consequently, they end up in the streets. While there are homeless veterans who have found shelters in rescue agencies, their problems are complicated because of chronic drug and alcohol abuse (Copeland and Zoroya 1). Still, homeless veterans who are still on the streets present the toughest challenges because they might have multiple related issues, including substance abuse, chronic diseases, alcoholism, schizophrenia, and other related behavioral challenges.

On the same note, women veterans are at high risks of becoming homeless because of co-occurring disorder associated with negative life outcomes (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration 1). According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration), women veterans’ rate of becoming homeless is four times higher than other non-veteran populations (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration 1).

Whereas many services target male veterans, homeless women veterans have received limited support. They also experience high risks of exposure to homelessness because of rampant drug abuse and lack of medical support. Further, economic burdens related to child support, legal issues, fines, and warrants could force them into homelessness.

Veterans could also lack long-term permanent housing solutions and family support. One must recognize that as the number of US soldiers increases with both genders, veterans will consist of a significant number of homeless populations, particularly after wars. Also, co-occurring disorder and inadequate medical attentions could further complicate the problems.

Backlogged disability claims have also contributed to homelessness among veterans (Kuykendall 1). The inability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to fast track compensation and funding for disabled veterans is linked to homelessness among many veterans. Disabled veterans wait for a long period to receive their disability benefits. One must recognize that many disabled veterans may not find employment or have homes after the war. Consequently, they end up in the streets as homeless individuals.

When veterans return from war zones, they encounter bureaucracy and lengthy procedures, which result in delays when processing their disability claims with Veterans Affairs. After the submission, the process should take 125 days, but this may fail, and the claim becomes backlogged (Kuykendall 1). Backlogged claims could result from poor funding.

Therefore, additional funding could prevent homelessness among veterans, particularly among young soldiers who are still at wars. Increased funding could eliminate challenges that Vietnam War veterans experienced. Failure to target Veterans when they returned from wars because of inadequate funding could have contributed to their homelessness status.

Finally, a possible cause of homelessness among veterans could be the poor economy. In most cases, veterans are mainly high school graduates. In this context, they did not join colleges to acquire skills to use after their military services. Consequently, veterans are not able to get employment or engage in self-employment. The situation has deteriorated with the poor economic growth in the US. Moreover, veterans with co-occurring conditions may experience severe economic impacts, which could force them to homelessness.

One must recognize that it is difficult to identify specific causes of homelessness among veterans. In this sense, this essay has highlighted possible, specific risk factors that are linked to homelessness among veterans in the US. By understanding risks factors associated with homelessness, intervention programs could offer effective services and support, which veterans require to avoid homelessness.

Overall, the most effective interventions would be to target veterans before they slip into homelessness. Alternative intervention programs should target veterans when they are at high risks of becoming homeless, rather than when they are already homeless and experiencing multiple challenges.

In conclusion, the essay has covered several risk factors related to homelessness among veterans, which include alcohol and substance abuse, poor economy, backlogged disability claims and adverse impacts of post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual trauma, and other mental conditions.

Several studies have supported these risks factor related to homelessness among veterans. For instance, the National Coalition for the Homeless, SAMHSA, and individual researchers have explored factors related to homelessness among veterans to provide various accounts of causes and impacts on society. They have all concluded that veterans do not deserve to live on the streets after years of dedication to the country.

Works Cited

Copeland, Larry and Gregg Zoroya. : End vet homelessness. 2014. Web.

Kuykendall, Mark. FY15 proposed budget takes aim at VA disability claim backlog. 2014. Web.

Leatham, Elizabeth. : Homelessness Among Our Veterans. 2012. Web.

National Coalition for the Homeless. . 2009. Web.

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. Co-Occurring Disorders and Military Justice: Women Veterans with Co-Occurring Disorders. Web.

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