Facing Veteran Homelessness


Elena Keller

Veterans Day is fast approaching and communities are preparing to celebrate the men and women who fought for their country, but do people care about their vets the rest of the year? 


The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans states that “40,056 veterans are homeless on any given night” and “about 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans.” 


The majority of these homeless vets are men, with only 9% being women. African Americans and Hispanics make up 45% of the entire homeless population, despite only accounting for 10.4% of the U.S. veteran population.


James Clark from Task and Purpose writes, “For the first time in seven years, the number of homeless veterans has increased in the United States.”


So why are so many veterans homeless? Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. from Psychology Today says that veterans returning home after being deployed are more at risk for mental health and substance abuse problems. Also veterans with “few financial assets or [those] who don’t have family members they can turn to for support may find themselves on the street.”


Despite the growing numbers of homeless vets, very little is being done to investigate this predicament. Vitelli states, “Despite numerous media stories about homeless veterans and the problems they face, actual studies exploring the incidence and causes of veteran homelessness remain scarce.”


There are also many obstacles in trying to help solve this problem. One huge problem is that helping homeless veterans simply isn’t a priority for the Department of Veterans Affairs, who may be planning to make cuts to programs working on helping vets. 


Stephen Peck, the president of U.S. VETS, states that there needs to be a broader approach to helping veterans “whether it be mental health, substance abuse, education, or whatever it may be.”