Homelessness among Veterans
Military veterans refer to the people who have long experience in military activities. These people are usually exposed to certain orgy incidences that may make them suffer from mental disorders ranging from post-traumatic stress to anxiety and depressions. These mental disorders can make the victim start misusing substances such as drugs; also, they can engage in domestic violence, committing suicide, or child abuse.
The problem of homelessness among veterans has attracted the attention of various researchers. Most of the research conducted on homelessness among veterans has been in the form of surveys that capture the number of veterans who are homeless and their demographic characteristics. The main aim of these studies has been to establish whether veterans are overrepresented in the American homeless population and whether veterans have higher chances of becoming homeless compared to other groups. The existence of a high proportion of veterans among the homeless is not only limited to males. Several organizations have been established to deal with the issue of homelessness among veterans. The paper gives an in-depth assessment of the answers the researcher got while interviewing three members from their organizations dealing with the issue.
Summary of the Interviews with the Agent for Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, Patient Advocate at the VA Hospital, and Transition Coordinator
The agent for Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program informed that the program was administered by the office of community planning and development. This falls within the department of housing and urban development. This means that it is a national organization that helps the people from all states. The agent said that this program awards formula grants to states and localities in order to prevent homelessness as well as procure shelter to veterans who have become homeless.
On the advocacy of veterans provided by the VA hospitals, the interviewee explained that the Department of Veterans Affairs, which formerly had been the Veterans Administration, was a department representing how the government intercedes for the healthcare of the veterans. This means that this organization is a national organization serving veterans from all states. The patient advocate said that the government had always provided Medicare care directly to the veterans by collaborating with the medical schools in the country and educating physicians.
Veterans between the ages of 18 and 30 are believed to be the majority among various communities. Most of these veterans have the problem of homelessness. In terms of race and ethnicity in the three common racial groups in America such as white, black, and Hispanic, the interviews showed that the prevalence of homelessness in these racial groups corresponded to the prevalence rates in the entire population. However, interview with the representative of the VA hospital proved that other ethnic groups like Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Asians had a slightly higher number of veterans in their homeless populations. However, when taken collectively, these racial groups only account for a small percentage of the homeless veterans in America. When asked about the targeted population, the patient advocate said that around 30 million of Americans were veterans potential for the VA care. Though it had been the norm for veterans with disabilities to be given priority, it had emerged that priority should be given to all. The current VA hospitals are scattered in around 171 places with their mission varying from full-pledged tertiary care to long-term rehabilitation or psychiatric care. When asked how this could help in preventing homelessness among the veterans, the patient advocate argued that veterans become homeless as a result of the lack of care, and the abovementioned mission has helped prevent and reduce such issues. In addition, the interviewee noted that the most common mental disorder affecting veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Discussing the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, the agent assured that they were working hard to prevent homelessness among veterans. They do this by making sure that the cost of acquiring home remains low all the time. The main difference between this program and the VA hospital is that the VA hospital provides affordable health care to the veterans while the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program tries to ensure that their shelter is guaranteed.
The agent said that the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program funding was usually distributed basing on the formula used for the Emergency Shelter Grants Program. This program has enough resources, so veterans who are homeless can apply and secure affordable housing. The agent said that veterans were a group that should be honored by the society, and that their program was dedicated to solving the problem of homelessness among veterans. He noted that aspects of the military experience itself may lead to impaired independent functioning in the civilian world. This, in turn, leads to the veterans being homeless as a result of stress, and the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program is dedicated to ensuring that they cater homes for veterans.
Regarding the targeted population, all interviewees agreed that they dealt with all the veterans irrespective of their gender, race, or geographical location. The patient advocate at the VA hospital stated that the chances of younger veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder were five times higher than that of veterans above the age of forty. The interviewee attributed this difference to the fact that younger soldiers occupy lower ranks, which exposes them more to combat. Veterans with serious injuries, like losing a limb, and those with mental disorders, like post-traumatic stress disorder, are normally given comprehensive medical care without any charges. Veterans with minor complications who earn above the set limits are required to make co-payments when receiving care for medical problems that are not connected to their service.
Though homeless veterans have represented service in all major combat operations, from the World War II to today’s Syria, half of the homeless veterans served during the Vietnam War. The reasons for the high rate of homelessness among veterans have been widely known, with many citing high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. Others cite mental health and substance abuse problems as the main contributors to homelessness among this population. Among the additional contributors one can name the lack of family and social support. It can also be stated that veterans become homeless just like other people – because of the lack of affordable housing, wages, and health care coverage.
In addition to the prevalence of homelessness among veterans, the interviews captured comprehensive description of the demographic traits among the homeless veterans, variations in the risk of being homeless based on the demographic group, and an analysis of the risk of homelessness for veterans. The interviews conducted with post-war veterans indicate that a number of veterans feel emotionally distracted. They often want to indulge in activities with safety with their main focus on post-deployment.
The transition coordinator said that their work is to organize, plan, and implement the community outreach. They conduct marketing to ensure veterans are accepted to various learning institutions. They also touch on the education for veterans to make them fit in the society after their service. Due to the trending necessity for education, most veterans now flock to various institutions with the intention of attaining higher levels of education. Veterans influence culture and structure of the programs in universities. The transition coordinator argued that after tragic experiences on the battlefields, veterans often opt for alternatives. The interviewee stated that female veterans who faced the highest risk of being homeless were the ones who had served during the Vietnam War. Concerning the estimated number of veterans, the transition coordinator said that advances in methods of data collection on homeless individuals and the services offered to them made the first countrywide estimate of homeless veterans in 2009 possible.
In most cases, the program designs must be accommodative enough to suit the needs of veterans. Normally, some of the life experiences that veterans go through may form the basis for attaining higher education. Most veterans may be exposed to certain compelling life events that demand education and thorough training. In order to suit various interests, such veterans must always go back to educational establishments with the aim of reinstating their experience as well as educational status. The conditions on the battlefields also subject them to making various decisions on their educational lives.
The above organizations offer the following services to all veterans and their families. First and foremost, through the Operation Comfort Warriors, many veterans have been able to obtain assistance such as medical services for the wounded and injured. Also, they provide supportive services for the veterans with disabilities who were incapacitated during the war. The incapacitated veterans are usually provided with exercise equipment that they could use to start a new life. Also, these veterans are provided with guidance and counseling to try and reduce the trauma that most ex-soldiers experience after the war.
The interviews indicated the prevalence of homelessness among veterans by age, whereby veterans between the ages of 20 and 34 had the highest incidence of being homeless. The conclusion made by the interviewees was contrary to the popular belief that only issues related to adjustment in the post-combat period cause homelessness among veterans.
Recommendations on What Ought to Be Done to Deal with Homelessness among Veterans
The abovementioned organizations must all aim at focusing on methods that have proven successful in assisting homeless veterans get affordable housing and access both health and behavioral care. The strategy to end homelessness among veterans should be anchored to five pillars. The first one is the provision of affordable housing. This strategy aims at increasing the opportunities of affordable houses for veterans through providing subsidies under the current housing program and constructing new houses and rehabilitation facilities. First and foremost, federal government should encourage the establishment of more organizations in many states to enable the veterans from these regions to access the quality services.
The second strategy of ending homelessness among veterans is the provision of permanent supportive housing. Studies have shown that the provision of permanent supportive housing is one of the crucial steps to ending homelessness among veterans. The provision of permanent housing will rapidly move veterans from the streets or from temporary housing to the affordable and stable housing where veterans can receive comprehensive services to take care of their employment needs, mental health, and substance abuse. A preliminary examination of supportive housing has shown that it improves housing stability, reduces the days veterans spend as homeless persons, and reduces the cost incurred in providing public services to veterans like inpatient care, emergency shelter, jails, and sobering centers among others. The results of the above interviews indicated that there was a large decline in the average cost incurred in health care and treatment of veterans. The largest decline has been witnessed in the number of veterans acquiring homes. Veterans can be adaptive by nature and cannot be compared to other ordinary students. They may have sustained injuries during their services. This makes them unable to conform to the normal environments.
The third strategy of ending homelessness is increasing meaningful and sustainable employment for veterans. This strategy seeks to come up with programs connecting veterans to employment while taking into account the needs of veterans who are homeless. This program aims at coordinating veterans’ employment strategies with their housing needs.
The fourth strategy is reducing financial vulnerability among veterans. Many veterans who are homeless or those at the highest risk of experiencing homelessness qualify for the services offered by the VA. However, some veterans are not aware of existence of such programs, or they may be undecided when it comes to obtaining care from the VA.
The fifth strategy is ensuring that homelessness is declared as a disaster among veterans. After implementing the strategy, the problem will be tackled in an effective way, whereby all stakeholders will ensure that no veteran is left homeless.
The interviews conducted with the individuals representing three different organizations dealing with veterans showed that the organizations had generally ignored the poverty status of the veterans. The organizations discussed in the interviews act as an advocate that lobbies complaints from the veterans to the government with an aim of ensuring that this group of people can obtain benefits for their military service. The organizations engage in the veterans programs that provide different services such as guidance and counseling to this group of people in the society as one way of fulfilling their mission. Their foundations ensure that every veteran is able to receive the state’s recognition of their service that they provided during the war by giving them financial support as a benefit.