Why Are So Many Veterans Homeless?

January 5, 2023

Exploring the Link Between Veterans and Housing Instability

While the national number of veterans experiencing homelessness has technically decreased—by at least 11% in the past two years—veterans still make up a large percentage of the homeless population. About 33,000 homeless veterans have been accounted for since January 2022. Unfortunately, veterans are at high risk of experiencing homelessness for a myriad of reasons. Without acknowledging and addressing the reasons veterans are more likely to experience homelessness, this number may continue to rise.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons veterans are more prone to housing instability and ways communities can support this demographic.

Common Reasons Veterans Experience Homelessness

Veterans encounter challenges most of the population can’t relate to, and these circumstances all play a role in the high percentage of homeless veterans in the United States. Recognizing the main reasons vets experience homelessness is the first step to developing solutions.

Veterans frequently experience mental health challenges, and there isn’t enough support to go around.

Life in the military involves unique hurdles. Military members often face frequent relocations, physical distance from loved ones, working unfamiliar hours, and other stressors. As veterans navigate regular lifestyle changes without a support network, it’s all-too-common for soldiers to develop mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorder. And of course, soldiers who experience combat are even more likely to develop mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). 

Unfortunately, there is a clear shortage of mental health providers across the board, and veterans aren’t exempt from feeling the impact. Currently, over 150 million people live in areas that have been considered significantly impacted locations undergoing a shortage of mental health service providers. So, for many veterans, especially in more rural areas, access to mental healthcare and support services is more limited.

Jobs in the military don’t always present clear career paths following time served.

After leaving the military, only 1 in 4 veterans have a job they’ll transition to after finishing their time served. In many scenarios, veterans are trained on services that don’t necessarily translate to a similar job available to civilians. Plus, most people enter the military at a young age with minimal job experience. This lack of transferable skills can present major barriers to securing and holding a stable source of income upon exiting the military.

Finally, affordable housing options are slim across the country.

In the years following the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. and global economies have been turbulent. With nearly 600,000 people experiencing homelessness in America on any given night, affordable housing options are essential. But currently, there’s a deficit of approximately 7 million affordable housing units across the country. As veterans adjust to life as civilians, they deserve a safe place to stay. Economic uncertainties combined with a lack of reasonable housing options make it a struggle for veterans to receive the security and support they need.

 

How can our society better support veterans and reduce risk of housing instability?

Adapting to a civilian lifestyle after time served in the military can be a difficult transition. Being a veteran in the United States makes you at least 50% more likely to become homeless than those that haven’t served in the military. Fortunately, nonprofits and government agencies provide vital services that can create better outcomes for our community of veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs helps bridge the gap, but there’s always room for improvement.

If your organization is interested in offering support to veterans, here are a few services you can consider:

  • Temporary housing options and longer-term affordable housing initiatives.
  • Employment services, including career training and job placements.
  • Free or steeply discounted mental health programs.

Customized Case Management Can Help Drive Solutions

The average social worker or case manager could receive anywhere from 25 to 49 individual cases or more, with each case requiring compassionate support and streamlined access to services. Our case management software can serve as your HMIS database, but it can do so much more. Log case notes, coordinate services, and more with a custom software solution tailored to your organization’s workflow.

CaseWorthy allows organizations to truly be client-centric from all directions.

Want to learn more? Explore the links below.