November 8, 2011; Source: New York Times | On the eve of Veteran’s Day, a national scandal is playing itself out on the streets of our country. A recent study performed by the 100,000 Homes Campaign and based on a survey of homeless people in 47 communities across the United States has found that veterans who become homeless not only tend to be homeless longer than others but also have worse health conditions. Veterans also comprise a far higher percentage (at 17 percent) of the homeless population than their representation in the general population (at 9 percent). From the report:
Homeless veterans reported an average of nearly six years homeless, compared to four years among non-veterans. Among those who reported spending two or more years homeless, veterans reported an average of nearly nine years homeless, compared to just over seven for non-veterans . . . the longer people spend on the streets, the more health risks they tend to develop. Among the 62% of homeless veterans who reported two or more years of homelessness, over 61% reported a serious physical health condition, 55% reported a mental health condition, 76% reported a substance abuse habit, and 32% reported all three. As a group, veterans were 11 percentage points more likely to suffer from at least one condition linked to increased risk of death among the homeless population, which means the men and women who risked their lives defending America may be far more likely to die on its streets.
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The report also states: “Combat ought to be the most difficult experience of a veteran’s life, but many veterans go on to become homeless for eight or nine times the length of their deployments.”—Ruth McCambridge