Substance Abuse in Veterans
Veterans become homeless & are at risk for homelessness for the same
as non-veterans, including due to the rising foreclosure* and
unemployment rates, as well as
due to veteran specific issues. Mental
Health issues (e.g., PTSD, mood disorders & substance use) have been
among the primary risks for homelessness among veterans.**
The effects of PTSD, including addiction, interpersonal problems & job loss,
were also associated with homelessness. The effects of combat exposure do not disappear as the years go by. Recent studies
reveal that 10% of Vietnam veterans still suffer from severe PTSD symptoms & that their combat exposure continues to place
them at risk for negative social & psychological consequences.
The NCHV's Iraq Veteran Project & others have reported that OIF/OEF vets are in serious danger for homelessness &
chronic homelessness. One source reported that in 2007 the DVA had identified more than 1,000 OIF/OEF at risk
veterans. In addition to the veteran homelessness risk factors noted above, they identified the following reasons for
In March 2009 the overall unemployment rate for OIF & OEF
veterans 18 and
older was 11.2% (one in nine are jobless)
vs 8.8% for non vets in the same age group.
According to the DOL, in early 2010 DOL the unemployment rate
among veterans of OIF & OEF ages 18-24 was 21.1%
to the national rate of 16.6% for nonvets in the same age group.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans a "top priority is secure,
safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment which is free of drugs and alcohol." They state that "veterans need
a coordinated effort that provides secure housing and nutritional meals; essential physical health care, substance abuse aftercare
& mental health counseling; & personal development and empowerment. Veterans also need job assessment, training and
placement assistance . . . helping veterans reach the point where they can obtain & sustain employment."
The most effective programs for homeless veterans, according to the National Coalition
for Homeless Veterans, are "community-based, nonprofit, veterans helping veterans groups. Programs that seem to work best
feature transitional housing with the camaraderie of living in structured, substance-free environments with fellow veterans
who are succeeding at bettering themselves. Because government money for homeless veterans is currently limited . . . it is
critical that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities most Americans take for
granted: housing, employment & health care."