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There are several veterans who are homeless in the United States of America and are estimated to range between 130, 000 and 200,000 at a given one night. Homeless veterans represent a fifth of all homeless people in America. There are also those veterans who struggle to meet the excessive rent burdens and this has worsened their homelessness.
There is also a growing concern regarding the status of the veterans in the future. Women veterans and those with disabilities are becoming increasingly isolated and are likely to become homeless. This is a common characteristic of those veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The records at the department of Veteran affairs in the US indicate that majority of the homeless veterans are males, and only four percent are females. Majority of them are single, from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. Approximately, forty-five percent of them suffer from one form of disability or the other and nurse the effects of drug and substance abuse.
These homeless veterans are those who served in World War II, Cold war, Vietnam war, Korean war, Panama, Grenada and Lebanon. Female veterans are likely to be married but most of them end up suffering from psychiatric problems (National Coalition for the Homeless 1).
Programs and Policy Issues
Various attempts are made to ensure that veterans who are homeless acquire homes. The department of veteran affairs is responsible for funding temporary housing for the homeless veterans. These programs include: shelter and a two year transitional housing that is funded by the grant and their per diem program, long-term care through domiciliary care for the homeless veterans and imparting of some skills such as Compensated Work Therapy. However, these programs do not meet the required demand or the existing needs.
There is also the Department of Housing and Urban Development that have collaborated with the HUD-VA to offer supportive and housing programs that can connect the housing choice to the vouchers with the VA case management system and services. The HUD program mainly targets the veterans.
The addition of extra vouchers by the government was considered to be a major boost. Veteran assistant staff has been collaborating with local coalitions in various states to ensure that the homeless veterans are guaranteed of their security and safety by providing shelter, food, clothing and other forms of assistance (Todd 21).
The response by homeless veterans gained prominence in the 1980s when the Congress realized that veterans were unrepresented in the data of homeless persons. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans was established to provide services and support to the increasing number of homeless veterans (Perl 18).
The needs and the demands of the homeless veterans are similar. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Affairs advocates for effective programs, and they suggest for community based non-profit organizations like veterans helping veterans group to spearhead the process. It has been shown that veterans can be successfully assisted to acquire homes.
The government needs to take proactive action to curb the menace of having so many veterans being homeless. Long term planning will make it possible for the veterans to be provided with social amenities and health care. The government also needs to actively examine the issue of wage disparity as it directly contributes to homelessness. Unless these are addressed, the tragedy of veteran homelessness will be an unending mess plaguing the American communities.
National Coalition for the Homeless. Homeless Veterans. National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009. Web. <http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/veterans.pdf>.
Perl, Libby. Veterans and Homelessness. New York, NY: DIANE Publishing, n.d. Print.
Todd, Ernest. Homelessness: Is Society Looking the Other Way? New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2005. Print.