How to Honor Our Veterans

Posted: November 11, 2010 in homelessness
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While the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness has been declining over the past two years, 107,000 former service men and women were homeless on a given night in 2009 as estimated by the The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA)

Sixty-one percent of homeless Veterans are between ages 35 and 54. Though 96 percent of homeless Veterans are male, the number of female Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans experiencing homelessness is alarmingly increasing as well as the number of homeless Veterans who have dependent children.

In general, Veterans have high rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, and sexual trauma which can lead to higher risk for homelessness.  About half of homeless Veterans have serious mental illness and 70 percent have substance abuse problems. Half of homeless Veterans have histories of involvement with the legal system. (I personally believe that all of these problems are primarily a result of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan)  Veterans are more likely to live outdoors—unsheltered—and experience long-term, chronic homelessness.

There is Help

But there is help available for these men and women who sacrificed so much for us and have received so little in return. These brave souls willingly placed themselves in harm’s way in order to make our way of life safe and secure. Now we have the obligation and responsibility to help make their lives safe and secure.

If you know someone who is a Veteran and is experiencing homelessness you can help them get the help they need by contacting the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans

The VA has founded the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline to ensure that homeless Veterans or Veterans at-risk for homelessness have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. The hotline is intended to assist homeless Veterans and their families, VA Medical Centers, federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers and others in the community.  To be connected with a trained VA staff member call 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838).

It’s nice that there are so many businesses and organizations that take one day out of the year to honor our Veterans, but after Veteran’s Day ends let’s not return to our life as usual. Remember that after today many of our Veterans will still be homeless and in desperate need of our help and support.

If you know of a Veteran who is facing homelessness please make the call to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans or contact your local VA to find out how you can help. In this way we can make everyday a day that we honor our Veterans.

“Homelessness cannot be solved by a single agency or organization, by a single level of government, or by a single sector. Everyone should be reminded of the intricacies of homelessness as a policy area, and remember that preventing and ending homelessness will take real coordination, collaboration, and a constant exchange of ideas.”

HHS Secretary                                                                                                                                                              Kathleen Sebelius

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