One in seven homeless Americans are veterans, and nearly 1.5 million veterans face an imminent risk of becoming homeless. The sheer amount of Americans in dire need of assistance is critical, especially since a very large portion of the national homeless population has served the country in years past.
The top-down nature of the military means that every service member answers to a superior, giving them a purpose and a defined role. What’s more, certain aspects of the military equip soldiers with skills they can apply later in life but other aspects of military life are lost on many civilians. Many soldiers leave service with a positive future ahead, but others are left at a loss without the structure of military life. They leave the service and have limited resources to help them excel in civilian life. For many, the only option is the streets, where they become a mere statistic in a major issue in the United States.
Many people tend to think of homeless veterans as older men who fought in wars past but that is not the case. The Center for American Progress (CAP) suggests around 30 percent of veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed. These are individuals in their foundational years for military and civilian career growth, yet they are stuck on the streets.
Companies are starting to understand the skills veterans offer and supporting veteran hiring initiatives. But many companies during the United States’ wars abroad did not understand how to properly recruit or interact with soldiers looking for domestic jobs. What’s more, the military does very little to prepare soldiers for the job-seeking process. The CAP reports 57 percent of veterans are unsure of how to professionally network as of 2011.
It is clear Americans and fellow soldiers are concerned about the welfare of these homeless veterans. It would seem that the idea of government assistance is politically splintered but many people, from both sides of the aisle, come together to support the troops who have fallen by the wayside. There are countless resources available to veterans, but most importantly, there is a network of like-minded professionals offering advice and support.
What should we do to end veteran homelessness? How can we better prepare service members for transitioning into civilian life?
Weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military community.