Homelessness is a major problem in all countries, it is not an issue reserved for poorer nations alone. Homeless vets make up a large percentage of the people who sleep rough on the nation’s streets each night. Though the latest figures point to a slight decrease in the number of homeless veterans over the last few years it is still unacceptable that those who were willing to give up everything for the country have found themselves in such dire situations today. Who knows what the future will hold. With the country fighting wars on a couple of fronts there is every chance that at a later date today’s military heroes are going to have a hard time adapting to life back in normal society.
The Veterans Association work hard to reduce the number of ex military who are homeless. In fact the VA is in the middle of a five year plan that hopes to end homelessness among veterans. Studies have shown that just a couple of years ago there were upwards of one hundred and fifty thousand veterans without a permanent roof over the head, this has decreased to around one hundred thousand by the close of 2009. Obviously this is encouraging news but still the numbers are an indictment of how we treat people in our culture.
There are many factors which can help bring down the number of homeless vets. It takes coordination between various governmental departments and other organizations for any policies and campaigns to be successful. In fact this is made clear by the secretary of the Veterans Association who has suggested that only with increased collaboration between state, federal, faith based organizations, veterans organizations and other partners can the problem be brought down to a tolerable level.
Part of the strategy includes targeting the twenty five thousand new veterans that leave military service each year before they cross the line that is hard to come back from. Prevention is far better than a cure, both in monetary and policy terms.
Sadly out of America’s total homeless population it is believed that more than twenty five per cent fall into the category of military veterans, this is even more shocking when we discover that veterans make up just eleven per cent of the countries adult population. Apart from the serious mental problems that can be caused by being homeless there is the real need for medical assistance for many veterans. A large number suffer from illnesses caused by their service to the nation. Our veterans should be given complete honor and respect by all true patriots, let’s not forget that if it was not for them the country we live in and the freedoms we have would simply not be the same.
If you believe that homeless people are on the streets because of their own behavior and attitude then you would be mistaken. Of course there will always be a small percentage that would have ended up on the streets whether or not they did their military service, but the majority have found themselves without a roof over the heads because they fought and sacrificed for the country. If you have never spent time in a war zone then it is almost impossible to comprehend the mental turmoil that is experienced. It is no surprise if a veteran turns to drink and drugs to cope with the stress and trauma experienced when in uniform.
So what can you do to honor these heroes? Actually there are many avenues you can go down to help out. For a start you can pick up your phone and ring your representative in congress and ask them what exactly they are doing to help our veterans. The more people that take this step the greater the pressure that will be felt. Contact the Veterans Association to find out if there are any shelters in your area or neighborhood that cater solely to homeless vets and ask how you can help out. Most shelters simply do not have the funds and staff to cater sufficiently to the demand for their services. A good Samaritan would be welcomed with open arms.
Even if you cannot give your time to physically helping out at a veteran shelter there are other ways you can make a real difference. For example if you have any old clothes these would be accepted with no second thoughts. Often it is the simple gestures that can have the biggest impact. Even by spending time in a veterans shelter chatting and befriending the nation’s heroes can have a positive impact. If an individual believes that other people are caring for them and looking out for them it will be a boost to their self esteem and help them get back on their feet.