Up until now, it has been unclear just how many veterans sleep on the streets each night and just how many former military service people make up the overall homeless population. However, a new joint study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has revealed the shocking answers to these questions.

The study, which studied veteran homelessness throughout 2009, found that an average of 76,000 veterans were sleeping on the street on any given night throughout the year and an estimated 150,000 former servicemen and women spent at least one night without shelter during the year. Of the homeless veterans examined in the study, about 60 percent were staying in temporary shelters, such as homeless shelters, while about 40 percent were sleeping out in the elements.

The study also found that about 12 percent of all chronically homeless people are veterans, and the veterans were twice as likely to become homeless as non-veterans. In addition, veterans had longer and more frequent stays in shelters than those who had not served in the past. Non-Caucasian veterans were more likely than white veterans to seek shelter.

There are many reasons for homelessness among veterans. Many veterans struggle with disabilities that they received while serving their country while others struggle with mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. In addition, veterans have higher rates of substance abuse issues, many of which are tied to emotional and psychological problems related to their time in combat.

Just recently, President Barak Obama revealed a new plan that would end chronic homelessness in the United States by 2020. The new plan, called “Opening Doors,” specifically focuses on the issue of chronically homeless veterans and disabled homeless veterans.


James R. Keller
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