Veterans and Homelessness – statistics and stories

President Obama has set a noble goal of eradicating homelessness amongst veterans by 2015. On December 13th the Deparment of Veterans affairs announced in a press release that homelessness amongst veterans in the United States has declined by 12% since last year. The VA estimates that 33,597 veterans were housed.

Another report on the topic comes from Tampa Bay Online, that Hillsborough County has housed nearly half of their homeless veterans, even though homelessness in general is on the rise. The CEO of Hillborough County Homeless Coalition suspects that homeless veterans may be under-reporting:

“I think we have some underreporting in the community,” Rayme said, “but there are good programs we are engaged in and the veterans are accessing those services.”

To illustrate these statistics, here’s a story of Bill Stockwell, 61, a homeless veteran who has been living in a mission for the last two years in Battle Creek, MI. After completing life improvement classes, he will qualify to move into federally subsidized housing. Not only are these veterans being housed, they are also receiving the attention they may need to live a more normalized life.

Another homeless veteran, Larry in Houston tells his story about how seeking help for his addiction through the VA turned his life around. He was able to clean up, get off the streets and get a job through personalized care and their Incentive Therapy program. But Larry had to take the first step and ask for help. In his own words:

“I had to admit I had a problem that I could not solve by myself. I knew I had to go somewhere to get a plan of action to stay sober because mine wasn’t working… I hope that one person is going to read this article and say `Let me go down to the Houston VA and see if I can get some help. Because I did, the world was opened up to me.”

It is hopeful to hear that people are getting the help they need. I hope these stories indicate that the VA is prepared to help the influx of troops returning from Iraq.

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