No Veteran Should Be Homeless

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According to a report, The State of Homelessness in America 2016, over half a million people, 564,708, which includes men, women, and children, were living on the streets, in cars, in homeless shelters, or in subsidized transitional housing.

(Actor Kerwin Gonzalez, in “A Sense Of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives”)
A large number of the homeless are veterans. Despite what conflict men and women serve, from WWII to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thousands of veterans come home to a country that doesn’t serve them well.  47,725, or about 8% of the homeless population, are veterans, with Washington, D.C. having the highest rate of homeless in the county. Minority veterans make up most of the homeless population, with 45% black or Hispanic. 10% of the homeless are women veterans. However, each year that number is rising and women are at a greater risk to become homeless than male veterans.

AT RISK

  • 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness. This may be due to poverty, overcrowding in government housing, and lack of support through various veteran networks. Research indicates that veterans are at risk of becoming homeless due to war-related disabilities or disorders, physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual assault, traumatic brain injury, depression and anxiety, and addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, more than 40,000 homeless vets receive compensation or pension benefits each month, but the amount they receive is nowhere near enough to afford their basic needs, like housing, food, clothing, etc.
Another problem thousands of veterans experience when they are discharged is difficulty finding employment because many of the jobs and skills vets learned while serving in the military aren’t applicable for jobs in civilian life.

SUICIDE

According to the Department of Defense, approximately 22 veterans commit suicide each day, that’s one person every 65 minutes. The rate of suicide among U.S. military veterans is considerably higher when compared to the general public. A report in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine found that a high number of suicides was a result of veterans who live with PTSD due to combatexperience and/or combat-related guilt. Meaning they survived when some of their buddies in their unit did not.
However, the Department of Defense also noted that thousands of veterans and active duty servicemen and women also suffer from PTSD as a result of military sexual trauma (MST).
Although women account for 47 % of sexual assault victims, men who serve in the military are also raped or sexually assaulted at record numbers.
(Actor Kerwin Gonzalez in ASOP movie)
For men, it has been found that they may suffer more severe symptoms after being raped due to the stigma and shame. For them, the emotional and mental pain becomes too much to deal with and suicide seems the only way out.
Dealing with PTSD as a result of being in combat is one thing, but to have this mental disability due to a violent sexual act is something else. Once a service member has been violated a huge sense of betrayal fills their mind. The trust has been broken between the victim and his or her brothers or sisters in arms. Victims can’t get away from their attacker, so they feel trapped, like they have nowhere to turn and no one will help them. In their mind, the fear of reporting the crime is worse than keeping the emotional pain bottled up inside. They also feel the U.S. government has failed them. For victims who gather enough courage to come forward and report what happened to them, they are often met with denial, retaliation or resistance from the government to address this silent epidemic.

Whether they were sexually assaulted or they had to deal with combat during multiple deployments, the fact remains that veterans who have PTSD carry the burden of what they saw, what they did, or what was done to them while they served their country. Thousands come home and are left to deal with psychological or physical scars, maybe both. They often cannot shake the painful memories. As a result, thousands of veterans still sleep with a gun under their pillow, avoid crowds, still have nightmares, have trouble with intimate relationships, resort to drinking and/or using drugs, and much more.

DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTION

(Actor Kerwin Gonzalez in ASOP movie)
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that the majority of homeless vets suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or other physical and/or psychology problem. Veterans who have PTSD often try to cope by drinking excessively or using illegal or prescription drugs.
According to the VA, more than one in five veterans with PTSD have a substance use disorder and one out of three veterans who seek addiction treatment has PTSD.
For female veterans, the statistics are direr as they are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD or other psychological issues, especially if they are dealing with military sexual trauma.
Numerous studies conducted show there is a direct link between substance abuse, depression, and suicide. When veterans seek help for substance abuse, therapists must also treat them for PTSD or any other mental health issues in order for treatment to be successful.
The problem of veterans’ homelessness impacts not just them, or their family and loved ones, but society as a whole. Veterans are supposed to be seen as heroes because they protect the United States and they make sure American citizens are free and safe. However, the fallen hero, who is now homeless, is looked at in a tragic way by society. People don’t understand how a veteran could succumb to sleeping under a bridge, eating out of trashcans, or begging for money. People truly have no idea what an active member of the military goes through, (post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, physical injuries, or sexual assault), and how that affects them when they are discharged.

HOPE: REACHING OUT TO HELP

  (Actors Kerwin Gonzalez and Tamara Woods in a scene from A Scene of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives)
There is hope as the Veterans Administration and other non-profit organizations work with veterans daily to help them improve their quality of life, especially if they are homeless. The mission of these organizations is to do preventive measures in order to help veterans before they end up on the street or abusing drugs.
Along with housing, veterans need additional job training and skills to get employment, counseling, education, financial assistance, and support from the general public as well as government officials.
The bottom line is men and women who are currently serving and who are veterans risked their lives and fought for their country. They deserve more respect, help, and support from the citizens of the United States.

IF YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW, NEEDS HELP…

VETERAN’S CRISIS LINE


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To learn more about A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, check out the website – www.asenseofpurposemovie.com
#ASOPmovie #JillianBullock #TamaraWoods #LamontFountain #JohnQuinlan #ASOPtour
#veterans #military #PTSD #militarysexualtrauma #suicide # honor #respect

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