Homelessness has been an issue among American veterans for several years, but it’s becoming quite the epidemic recently with an influx of veterans who’ve served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-ridden places in recent years.
One in three homeless people in America is a veteran. For now, most of those are Vietnam veterans, but as large groups of veterans attempt to assimilate themselves back into society as they return from current wars, more and more of those homeless people are younger veterans with fresher emotional wounds.
Veterans and soldiers often drown their PTSD and other emotional scars in alcohol or drugs, but that usually leads to early discharge if they’re still in the service, financial problems, difficulty getting or holding a job, marital or family problems, and, eventually homelessness.
“They train you to transfer from a civilian to a killing machine,” says one veteran, who went to prison for robbery following the downward spiral his life took after getting out of the service. “When you get out, they should have trained me to go back into being a civilian again.”
Homelessness numbers are in the hundreds of thousands among our veterans continue to rise with each given year. The Veterans Administration, however, can only provide beds to a few thousand of them.
It’s obvious that what we’re already doing is not nearly enough to fix this problem. Discharged service members need better training to help them get back into civilian life and therapy to help them overcome the traumatic things that may have happened to them during their service. And for veterans that are already living on the streets, they need help getting some form of shelter and getting back on their feet.
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“We have no inkling of the full scope of the problem,” says Roy Kearse, who helps run a state-funded homeless shelter for veterans with addictions. “They’re returning home, and they’re running into obstacles and problems, and all of the mechanisms are not in place to get to them.”
Something must be done about this pervasive issue. This is NOT the homecoming our heroes deserve. There is absolutely more that we can do to help these brave men and women who fought for our country and our freedom!
The video below is several years old, but the points it makes still stand in today’s world. Watch this video and think about ways that you can help our veterans in your daily life. Do you have any ideas to share? Something you’re already doing that others might be able to help with too? Post them below!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?