Why are Veterans Homeless?

Homelessness affects 1% of the entire US population or 10% of the poor.  Surprisingly, one third of all homeless adults are veterans.  America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly half of all homeless veterans served in Vietnam.  Surprisingly 56% of homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite making up less than 30% of the general population.

Homelessness is defined by the “McKinney Act” as anyone who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence or whose residence is either a shelter, temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or a public or private place not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

Now that we understand the facts behind homelessness, we can take a look at why they are homeless and what can be done to help.

Homelessness occurs across the general population due to an extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to affordable healthcare. These factors combined with the fact that many veterans must deal with PTSD on a regular basis increase their risk of homelessness. Though Veteran Affair is helping to tackle the issue; they are only able to extend their efforts to about half of the population.

So that’s the bad news, the good news is that you can make a difference.  Contact your local elected officials to discuss what’s being done for homeless veterans in your area.  Search the NCHV database http://nchv.org/network.cfm to find local programs that support veterans in your area. If you aren’t able to donate your time, monetary donations are always welcome at local and national organizations. They fought for us when it mattered most, now we can do our part to make a difference.


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