Study shows veterans are at a high risk of homelessness

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Imagine leaving your life, family and friends behind to serve your nation. When you return, nothing is the same. You struggle to rebuild relationships and even to find a job. On top of everything else, you battle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and are starting on a downward spiral toward homelessness. These factors add up to one appalling truth: veterans are at a greater risk of homelessness than civilians.

“There is an increased risk (of homelessness) for people who have military-related trauma experiences, like PTSD,” said Dennis Culhane, director of research for the VA's National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans said. “(This is a risk factor) specific to people exiting the military now.”

PTSD is a condition found in 10 to 20 percent of post-9/11 veterans, according to a national report completed by the Institute of Medicine.

Culhane has isolated risk factors for post-9/11 veteran homelessness, in addition to PTSD. Although some factors, such as economic disadvantages, might have existed before entering the military, others could have developed as a result of their service, such as mental and behavioral health problems.

“It’s likely these conditions existed before they joined the military, but their service didn’t help them acquire skills that would put them in a better position,” Culhane said.

Many veterans come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds – they enlist, in part, as a way to support themselves and their families or gain access to an education with the GI Bill post-discharge. However, they then return to these same conditions, and face difficulty making ends meet.

Veterans also have more difficulty maintaining relationships while serving – leading to a lack of support system upon their return home.

Iraq War veteran Andre Williams explained that one of his most significant struggles in transitioning back to civilian life was losing the safety net and job security of the military.

“When you are in the military, you always know where your next paycheck is coming from. You always know that you’re going to get fed. You always know that you’re going to have a roof over your head. You always know that you have somebody on your left and right who is responsible for watching your back,” he said. “The fact is that’s not the way real civilian life works.”

With nowhere to turn, vets may resort to alcohol, drugs and crime. The combination of some or all of these issues can make it difficult to maintain employment and housing, ultimately leading to homelessness.

But as Mellanie Villarreal of the Vet Hunters, a national nonprofit established to locate and house homeless veterans, pointed out, homeless veterans don’t always take the form you might expect.

“If you ask any person to describe a homeless veteran, they’ll say someone who’s older with a beard and long hair,” Villarreal said. “The homeless veteran now is young. They’re in their 20s. They’re females; they have kids; they have families… they’re living in cars, garages; they’re couch-surfing between friends and family.”

You can help change these statistics when you donate your car on Ohio.

The future of post-9/11 veterans can look bright. When you donate your car in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and across Ohio, your contribution directly benefits the life-changing services of Volunteers of America.

It’s easy. Just fill out this hassle-free online form, or give us a call at 800-862-6030 to arrange your free same-day towing. Did you know you could even receive more for your vehicle as a charitable contribution than would selling it on your own? Help Ohio veterans regain their independence today with your Ohio car donation.