We laud our men and women of the armed forces for being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, but how we treat them after they’ve returned from war—with the scars and angst that will last them a lifetime–speaks to how we really feel about their service. A shocking number of military veterans are homeless and also lack proper medical and mental care.
As a group, homeless veterans reported having been homeless significantly longer than their non-veteran counterparts.
- Among the total population surveyed, homeless veterans reported having been homeless for an average of 5.77 years vs. 3.92 years for homeless non-veterans
- Among the 12,500 people who reported having been homeless for 2 years or more, homeless veterans were found to have been homeless for an average of 9 years, whereas non-veterans were found to have been homeless for 7.3 years.
As a group, homeless veterans were considerably older than non-veterans, though this does not account fully for the longer duration of their homelessness.
- 21.3% of homeless veterans reported an age over 60, compared to 9.4% of homeless nonveterans
Homeless veterans reported a higher incidence of various health conditions linked to increased risk of death among the homeless population. Among these conditions:
- 27.3% were tri-morbid, meaning they suffered from mental illness, physical illness, and substance abuse at the same time
- 20.8% had received ER or inpatient care more than 3 times in the last year
- 21.3% were over 60
- 9.4% reported multiple instances of frostbite
- 9.2% reported liver disease
- 4.4% reported kidney disease
Veterans who had served in the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely to report a traumatic brain injury and to have received some form of mental health treatment than veterans of other wars
- 27% of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans reported traumatic brain injury, compared to 19% of other veterans
- 46% of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans reported some form of mental health treatment, compared to 41% of other veterans
No correlation was found between the possession of VA health benefits and frequency of health risks or time spent homeless.