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Homeless war veterans

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            Veterans are people who are or have been working in the armed forces.  These are people who should be honored and treated with maximum respect for their devotion and sacrifice they make to their country.  Russia is one of those countries that treat these figures with the respect they deserve for example during the Second World War, the wounded were considered first for any seat in the public transport.  Other countries have set aside a specific day when these individuals are honored like Remembrance Day and War Dead.

  Despite the fact that they sacrifice and commit themselves to serve their countries, homelessness is one of the major challenges that war veterans face.  This paper is going to intensively and extensively research on this issue.

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            War veterans are people who should be honored by their states and countries for their heroic and daring things they have done for their country.  Patriotism cannot be anything else if this cannot be regarded as such.

  Homelessness among veterans is not a recent phenomenon as the first soldiers’ hospital was established in the 12th century to cater for the homeless crusaders and it is in the 16th century that the first veteran’s home was built to house English sailors.

            In America, the problem of homeless veterans started being addressed soon after Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated. Even though the issue of homelessness among veterans is as old as rocks, its upsurge in the 1980s baffled many especially after the Vietnam War.  In the United States, war veterans were given a wide range of benefits by the government such as educational assistance, disability payments, loan guarantees, pension and free health care.  This was on the understanding that veterans are more vulnerable to be homeless than other groups.  Veterans, in general, are four times more likely than non veterans to be homeless (Baumohl, 90).

            One day census was conducted Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated to know how many were homeless and it was estimated that about 1.5 Americans were homeless and spent their lives in public shelters or in the cold.

The same problem is also reportedly said to exist. “About one-third of the adult homeless populations have served their country in the Armed Services. Current population estimates suggest that about 154,000 veterans (male and female) are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. Many other veterans are considered near homeless or at risk because of their poverty, lack of support from family and friends, and dismal living conditions in cheap hotels or in overcrowded or substandard housing.”  (U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 2008)

                                                                                                                                                         According to a survey that was conducted, it was revealed that in 1980, half of the homeless veterans were products of the Vietnam era.  According to USA Today, there were 500000 soldiers who were homeless and most of them had served in the army during the Vietnam period.  These people were subjected to a lot of sufferings both physical and psychological for example nightmares, violent behaviors were witnessed among them and this was happening before the Vietnam War was over.  The pain they experienced could be understood by the way they behaved.  Some vowed never to vote while other threw their medals at the pentagon to show their dissatisfaction to the way they were treated.  It was after this period that this issue was properly addressed. (Tick E. 2005)

            Anybody who has been in the armed service is exposed to three major risks namely; war exposure, military service and what is referred by psychologists as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). The signs of the PSTD are anti social behaviors such as sexually abusing children and have been established as the key indicator of homelessness among veterans.  This came to the light after the Research Triangle Institute was commissioned to conduct a survey to determine the causes and the prevalence of PTSD especially among the homeless veterans of the Vietnam era.

            According to the 1987 – 1988 survey, it was established that ten years after the last soldiers left Vietnam, about 15.2 percent of those that actively participated in the army were victims of PTSD, in comparison to 2.5 percent who were in the service but not in the war zone.  From the findings of this survey, it was inferred that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) was as a result of the war zone stress.  As per the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, there are at least 200,000 men mostly singles who are homeless and many suffer from substance abuse problems and mental disturbances. (Howell. 2008)

            When the issue of homelessness among war veterans is analyzed from a racial perspective, it is noted that of the estimated 200,000 homeless war veterans about 56% are black Americans.  Many of these war veterans have been living like vagabond and that was why a stand down was held in 30th 2008 by the Pittsburgh community in a bid to pool up resources that would help these figures to rebuild their lives (Howell, 2008).  This shows how this issue has risen to the levels of concern.

            As per the account that was given by one war veteran, Hassam, being a war veteran is not an easy thing.  He explains how his head was blown off not mentioning the nightmares and sleepless nights he experiences.  He fought both in Afghanistan and Iraq but the sad part of it was that when he returned home he found her wife had ran away and now he is lonely and has nowhere to go. (CBS News, 2007)

            Currently, one in every homeless three is a war veteran.  As the US pentagon sends more and more troops to the war zones like in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US Senate committee is mainly concerned with the welfare of those that are returning home.  As the figures stand today, the Vietnam War veterans are more than those of the Second World War, Afghanistan and Iraq but it is extrapolated that with time, the Iraq figure might exceed that of the Vietnam. (Fullerton and Ursano, 1997). According to one army officer, there is a possibility that one in every three war veterans in Iraq will fall victims of mental illnesses. (Tick E. 2005)

            Veterans who entered the combat in the last phase of the Vietnam War and the post war period were the most affected by the problem of homelessness.  This period is known as the wind-down phase and was served by All Volunteer Force (AVF) who had no or little exposure to war since most of the highly trained soldiers had either died or left (Baumohl, 102).

            In a bid to establish the risks that the homeless war veterans faced, it was established that another contributory factor was not their social economic status but the race factor.  As per the survey conducted in 1987 by the current population survey on education, employment and marital status, very small difference was noted between the non veterans and the post Vietnam War veterans.  It was established that blacks Americans were at higher risk than the whites, “they (whites) have higher income, lower poverty and unemployment rates, and a lower probability of living alone” (Baumohl, 102)

            The blacks were more prone to psychiatric effects than the whites during the Vietnam War.  Currently there is Veteran Affairs Department whose main objective is to address the issues affecting the war veterans.  They are entitled to certain benefits like medical allowances, pensions, housing and education. In reference to the survey that was conducted by the VA medical center in 1993 in California, it was realized that of all the psychiatric patients 30% were homeless at the time of their admission. These people lived lives of penury and that is why almost all of them are given free medical services in 172 AVA hospitals.

The issue of homelessness war veterans in America was witnessed first after the civil war then during the world war one and two. After the world war period, the issue of homelessness was not as serious as it turned to be after the Vietnam War in the 1980s. It is during this period that serious consideration was given to the issue although it has continued to be a problem up to date. It is estimated that the number of homeless war veterans might increase by the time the Afghanistan and Iraq war will be over.

Baumohl, J. 1996.  Homelessness in America: A Statistical Handbook and Resource Guide. National Coalition for the Homeless Greenwood Publishing Group,

Howell M. 2008. Homeless war vets receive assistance to rebuild their lives. Available    at http://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/articlelive/articles/41816/1/Homeless-        war-     vets-receive-assistance-to-rebuild-their-lives/Page1.html                                                        CBS News. 25th March, 2007. More Veterans Calling The Streets Home: An     Estimated 200,000 U.S. War Veterans Are Homeless. NEW YORK,            http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/03/25/eveningnews/main2607024.shtml United States of Veteran Affairs.2008. Overview of Homelessness. Available online at Available on http://www1.va.gov/homeless/page.cfm?pg=1

Tick E. 2005. War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-   traumatic Stress Disorder. Quest Books.

Fullerton, C. S. and Ursano R. J. 1997. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Acute and

            Long-term Responses to Trauma and Disaster. American Psychiatric Pub.


Cite this Homeless war veterans

Homeless war veterans. (2016, Oct 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/homeless-war-veterans/

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