A veteran, according to the definition given by federal law, the moral code and military service, is any person who served in the military for any length of time. Research by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, shows that 610,042 people in the United States of America are veterans. Out of the figure, about 9 % of homeless adults are veterans, which is about 37,000 in number. That is quite huge.
These veterans tend to suffer from mental illnesses like depression, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTD), drug and substance abuse among other conditions. This state therefore makes adjusting to civilian life quite difficult.
Some of the challenges that veterans may face include but are not limited to:
1. Homelessness- Most veterans, are rendered homeless due to a number of factors. Factors that contribute may include their mental statuses, poverty etc. The overall veterans tend to be male but recent study shows that female veterans make the fastest growing segment. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates, over 62000 veterans are homeless.
2. Unemployment- Most veterans face this challenge. Study shows that approximately 6.9 % compared to the national average of 7.3 %, which totals to about 246,000 veterans are without jobs. This figure is rapidly rising.
3. Lack of availability of appropriate jobs- Is also a factor that contributes to the high unemployment rates among veterans in America. Jobs that match the veterans experience and skills are hard to come by hence most veterans are unemployed.
4. Disability- According to credible sources, disability is the leading factor to veteran’s homelessness. They are physically, mentally and financially disabled. As mentioned earlier, most veterans suffer from mental illnesses and due to their unemployed status, they are also financially impaired.
5. Mortgage Problems- The foreclosure rates among military members is high. For instance, since the crash in 2008, more than 20,000 active duty veterans lost their homes. This subjected most of them to homelessness.
These are a few key challenges that homeless veterans face. Therefore, as a community, how can we help our most vulnerable fellow Americans? Below are few proposals as to how these homeless veterans can be helped.
1. Participate in campaigns to end stigma- Homeless veterans are faced with stigma from the society. This could be as a result of a past criminal record which also contributes to reluctance among potential employers to give them work. We can actively participate to end this stigma and transform the society’s mental attitude towards homeless veterans.
2. Donate- You can help these homeless veterans by giving financial donations to organizations like the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
3. Volunteering- You can also decide to volunteer your time at food banks, homeless shelters, community kitchens or medical facilities. It will mean a lot to these homeless veterans.
4. Advocate- This can be through being updated on current bills, getting in contact with your local representatives and even follow the Federal legislation at the Disabled American Veteran Website.
In a nutshell, these homeless veterans experience a lot of challenges, some of them have lost hope in life. Due to their mental incapacitation, some might be fatal to suicidal points. For some of them, even their age acts as a barrier for them to find work and help themselves. Finding the way forward in solving this problem should be the priority of every citizen and not only the government.