Studies show that veterans are over-represented in the country’s homeless population and are more likely than non-veterans to become homeless at some point during their lifetime.
According to a study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are about 40,000 homeless veterans in America. Although homelessness among veterans has dropped substantially since 2009 (by as much as 45 percent), between 2016 and 2017 it increased for the first time since 2010.
The vast majority (91 percent) of homeless veterans are men. Black veterans have a higher risk of becoming homeless than white veterans.
Veterans often report finding it difficult and disorienting to reintegrate into civilian life after returning from active duty. Many of the former servicemen and servicewomen who end up living on the streets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Substance abuse problems and injuries sustained during service are also common. These conditions often prevent veterans from finding or keeping profitable jobs and affordable housing.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other government organizations have worked to end veteran homelessness for decades but still have a long way to go. If you’re looking for a way to help, consider volunteering or donating to a homeless shelter in your community or a charity that supports veterans and their families. You can also encourage your lawmakers to push for more resources for veterans, especially when it comes to mental health services.