In actuality, many veterans face the problem of homelessness, which is often aggravated by serious mental health problems as well as alcoholism, drug addiction and other problems. In such a situation, veterans often feel being left aside since their family relations are ruined, while the support from the part of the government or public, non-profit organizations is rather fragmentary than effective. Moreover, the problem of homelessness among veterans is rather a consequences of a bunch of other problems, such as substantial health problems, on the one hand, and unaffordable costs of health care services, on the other. At the moment, the number of homeless veterans grows, while the active involvement of the US in military operations worldwide, including recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, will definitely increase the share of the veteran population among the total population of the US. However, the growth of the veteran population is likely to increase the risk of the homeless population among veterans. Therefore, the problem of homeless veterans persists and aggravates in the course of time, while current efforts of the government and non-government organizations are inefficient that means that further efforts have to be made and new programs have to be implemented to help vets and to tackle the problem of their homelessness in the contemporary society.
Today about 13% of the total homeless population of the US comprise homeless veterans, although the share of the veterans in the adult population of the US is only 8% (Kravitz, 2012). The share of homeless vets is disproportional in regard to their share in the total population of the US. In fact, many veterans turn out to be left aside as they retire from the US military. In face of numerous problems in their civilian life, they prove to be unable to tackle them successfully that often leads them to homelessness and stead degradation.
At this point, many researchers (Zoroya, 2005) point out that many veterans suffer from mental health problems and need the assistance of health care professionals or psychologists. However, today, many veterans do not have access to health care services they need because of their high costs. As a result, their condition keeps deteriorating and may be aggravated by their homelessness, which naturally means disintegration from the society and isolation from the community. In addition, many veterans have problems in their family life since often families of veterans have been ruined shortly after their retirement or during their service in the US military.
Causes of vets’ homelessness
Many vets confront substantial psychological and mental health problems. Being in the poor mental health condition, veterans cannot take decisions effectively (Anonymous, 2012). If they are deprived of the support of their family, they are likely to degrade and become homeless since they cannot perform a job, if they have one, and they have no one to support them. Their mental health problems keep progressing and, if vets do not receive proper treatment, they marginalize and become homeless outsiders.
Often vets suffer from alcohol or drugs abuse. The alcohol or drug abuse is naturally caused by the traumatic effect of the involvement in military operations and active military actions of vets (Anonymous, 2012). As they witness horrors of the war, they need rehabilitation, which may be long-lasting. However, they do not always undergo the rehabilitation and even if they do, the rehabilitation is often short run and, therefore, not always effective. In such a situation, vets find “salvation” in alcohol consumption and drug abuse that eventually undermine their financial position, physical and mental health and drives them to homelessness.
Many veterans confront substantial problems with purchasing their own homes. In this regard, high housing prices comprise only a part of the problem since veterans often have to spend considerable funds on the maintenance of their health or treatment of health problems, which they have. In such a situation, veterans are often deprived of health care coverage and have either to cover their health insurance or pay for health care services they need. Hence, vets become homeless as they cannot purchase their homes and they have to spend substantial funds on health care services.
Many veterans suffer from the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which prevents them from the integration in the society and the maintenance of the normal social life (DeAngeles, 2013). Often veterans face their families break-ups because of PTSD and, in such a situation, they are often left face-to-face with their problems, including mental, physical, psychological and financial.
Current support of veterans
Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs attempts to support veterans, although such support refers to the provision of health care services mainly. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers programs that aim at the coverage of health care services for vets because health care services comprise a large part of expenses of vets. The Department eases the financial pressure on vets and, thus, attempts to prevent vets from slipping to homelessness.
At the moment, the support of the Department of Veterans Affairs is insufficient. This is why many public, non-profit organization aim at helping homeless veterans. Public, non-profit organizations develop their own programs but their scope is too narrow to enroll all veterans. Instead, such programs focus at the local level mainly.
However, current efforts to help homeless veterans are not very efficient, because the share of homeless veterans populations keep growing as more and more vets from Iraq and Afghanistan join the homeless army of veterans. Moreover, new homeless veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are in a worse position because they have the higher risk of suffering the PTSD (DeAngeles, 2013). Therefore, the situation is likely to aggravate as more veterans are likely to become homeless.
So far, community-based programs have proved to be the most efficient in terms of provision of homeless vets with social support, including the provision of health care services, shelter, and job opportunities. Community-based programs have already proved their efficiency, while their further development can help to improve the position of veterans, including homeless veterans even more.
Therefore, today, the Department of Veterans Affairs and public, non-profit organizations should unite their efforts and focusing on community-based programs, which help homeless veterans to integrate into their communities. For instance, such programs can provide homeless veterans with provisional shelters, where they can stay until they find a job to be able to afford renting a home.
Furthermore, community-based programs can offer homeless veterans education, which can increase their job opportunities, especially in relation to young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The lack of education is one of the major causes of considerable difficulties vets confront as they are looking for a job. The lack of education may be aggravated by health problems that prevent them from performing certain jobs. As a result, vets have limited job opportunities. In such a situation, the development of educational programs for vets can help them to find new jobs and to open new career opportunities.
The government support is also important because the government bears ethical responsibility for veterans, who joined the US army and took part in military operations conducted by the US (Anonymous 2010). For instance, the government could enhance existing health care coverage programs or create a new one to provide veterans with partial or full health care coverage before they become homeless.
Thus, today, vets have the high risk of becoming homeless, while their share in the homeless population is disproportional compared to their share in the total population of the US. Current efforts to help homeless veterans undertaken by the Department of Veterans Affairs and public, non-profit organizations are not sufficient. Instead, new programs should help veterans to tackle their problems, such as the inability of vets to cover their health care services, homelessness and unemployment. In this regard, community-based programs are particularly effective and should be expanded further to help homeless veterans to tackle their current problems and to find a permanent residence.
Anonymous. (2010). “Veteran Homelessness,” US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved on July 11, 2013 from http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/docs/2010AHARVeteransReport.pdf
Anonymous. (2013). “Homeless Incidence and Risk Factors for Becoming Homeless in Veterans,” Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General. Retrieved on July 11, 2013 from http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-11-03428-173.pdf
DeAngeles, T. (2013). “More PTSD among Homeless Vets,” American Psychological Association, 44(3), 22. Retrieved on July 11, 2013 from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/03/ptsd-vets.aspx
Kravitz, J. (2012). “HUD Reports Slight Decline in Homelessness in 2012,” US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved on July 11, 2013 from http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2012/HUDNo.12-191
Zoroya, G. (2005). “Key Iraq Wound: Brain Trauma,” USA Today. Retrieved on July 11, 2013 from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-03-03-brain-trauma-lede_x.htm