The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently released figures which indicated an increase in the number of homeless Veterans who served in the Iraqi and Afghan wars.
A feature on the Navy Times shared that there are more than ten thousand Veterans who served in the Iraqi and Afghan wars who are either homeless, or are participating in programs assisting those who may be on the streets. This rise is noted despite the fact that the total number of homeless Veterans decreased from around 400,000 in 2004, to the current number of 135,000.
Statistics indicate that as of May, 10, 476 Veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan were either living on the streets, staying in temporary housing, or are renting an apartment with the use of federal vouchers. Of this number, it was noted that 13 percent are women Veterans.
Richard Thomas, case manager of Volunteers of America, shared: “We’re seeing more and more (Iraq and Afghanistan veterans)… It’s just a bad time for them to return now and get out of the military.”
The rise in homelessness among these Veterans has been attributed to poor economy, as well as the nature of current wars.
Pete Dougherty, senior policy adviser on homelessness at the VA, shared that the aforementioned combination of circumstances has resulted in a group of homeless Veterans where 70 percent have a history of exposure to combat – along with the psychological effects associated with such exposure.
LaShonna Perry, a former Army mechanic who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and who was homeless for more than a year after hanging up her uniform, shared: “Some soldiers still have issues they’re dealing with from what they’ve seen, what they’ve experienced… Some think, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me.’ They can deal with it on their own. Until it gets out of control.”