By Sarah Zeleya, Senior
Veterans Day—a day to celebrate and honor veterans who have served in the US military. They have sacrificed their lives to protect our country’s freedom. While civilians are supposed to commemorate our fallen soldiers this day, the holiday, the parades, and the free food opportunities can overshadow the struggle many veterans have to go through everyday, such as homelessness.
Despite their service, both male and female veterans are faced with homelessness once they are discharged from their enlistment term. According to the website, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, veterans from World War II through Afghanistan and Iraq War all have a percentage of homelessness, almost half of this population served in the Vietnam War.
The same resource reports that often times, veterans are forced into homelessness as a result of the shortage of affordable housing, livable income, access to healthcare, and even lack of support from the community around them. Occupations in the military can be very specific and cannot transfer over to a civilian occupation, meaning that many are forced to learn something completely new, which can be very time consuming and costly. Additionally, those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have been greatly affected by their time in combat and can lead to them falling into depression and substance abuse.
There are numerous organizations and charities that are working towards reducing the numbers of veterans on the streets, and some of these organizations provide support with their living/financial situation, education and assimilation to the civilian lifestyle. They have support groups that help build commoderary, just like in service, where they can help each other, share experience while still serving serving, and help them to rehabilitate. The website for Volunteers of America highlights some of the charities and nonprofits that help out veterans:
Fortunately, in 2018, there was a 5% drop of homeless veterans in the nation, which is a greater outcome compared to year prior. According Leo Shane, journalist for the Military Times, “about 38,000 veterans across the country are without stable housing on any given night, roughly half the number on the streets in 2010.” The significant drop in numbers indicates how the help of organizations and communities has impacted the lives of many and will continue to do so.
While veteran homelessness may never go away, there is always something to be done to impact lives and help guide those in need towards a better future. Our veterans have done so much for this country; therefore, in order for them to live safely without having to worry about impending threats, we as a community have to work together to keep reducing the enemy at home. It is only right to return the favor after everything they have given and sacrificed.