My buddy Dan recently asked me if I believed all those who wrote ’homeless veteran’ on their cardboard signs. It was a valid question. Skepticism is part of human nature. Plus, those with street smarts know that people are more likely to help when there is a common attribute the two individuals share. In this case that attribute was patriotism.
I told him that I do believe that a large majority of those signs are truthful. That's because the homeless epidemic sweeping across the West Coast has seen an influx of Veterans. In Los Angeles alone, they've seen a 57% increase in homeless vets this year.
Being that today is Veterans Day, here's some startling statistics from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans of what the homeless epidemic looks like across the United States.
11% of the homeless adult population are veterans
20% of the male homeless population are veterans
68% reside in principal cities
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 39,471 veterans are homeless on any given night
Based on these statistics, the question turns to why are there so many homeless veterans? Just like most questions surrounding homelessness, there's not a clear cut answer; however, this excerpt, also from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, helps explain why many veterans end up on the streets:
A large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks. Additionally, military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment.
Helping our veterans get off the street and into secure housing is a priority for politicians, even if they can barely keep up with the sheer amount of people. Los Angeles is struggling. Philadelphia has found success.
As cities continue to help house the homeless veterans across the country, here's something we can do to ensure we help our brothers and sisters who fought for our freedom.