Homeless veterans continue to roam the streets of the United States. This has been a major problem for the state for quite a long time. Many administrations have promised to resettle the veterans but little has been done. Indeed, there are several programs and services that are designed to help the veterans, but they are either inadequate or insufficient to address the crisis in homeless veterans. This paper will examine the definition of homeless veterans. Further, it will examine the homeless situation among them as well as the current programs that address their condition. Specifically, it will discuss the current status quo as well as the conditions that led to this state. More importantly, it will focus on the arguments for and against the status quo and argue that homelessness is self-inflicted with substance abuse and alcohol abuse. A conclusion will finally be made on the best position that explains the current conditions of the veterans.
According to Carrillo et al (249), homelessness among veterans is a situation where the soldiers who participated in different wars for the sake of this nation have nowhere to live. Specifically, these soldiers served in war zones and for one reason or the other returned home and now, they are homeless because of various reasons. As such, they occupy abandoned buildings in towns; live in the streets, encampments, shelters or any other uncomfortable and inappropriate places. In this regard, these homeless veterans do not have any permanent place where they can comfortably stay. Most of them fit the definition of street homeless where they spend a lot of time in the streets and have been continuously homeless for at least a year. Others have had at least three episodes of homelessness in the past three years (Coll et al., 282). For all purposes and intents, those veterans fit the definition of street people.
According to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment report to congress, over 45,000 veterans spend their night in the cold every single day (Cunningham, Mary, 1). Having served the government of the day and the people of the US, these people deserve better. However, the governments of the day have deserted them. Contrary to what is peddled in the media- that veterans are well taken care of; over one and half million veterans earn an income that is far below what is termed as the federal poverty line (Carrillo et al., 2012). In the predictions of the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), over one million service members will join the already existing number in the streets in the next six years. It is the belief of a majority of the American citizens that the government has done very little for the veterans. Specifically, the state has poorly treated its heroes. As such, they opine that much more needs to be done.
In 2009, the government of President Barrack Obama made a commitment to resettle all the homeless veterans by 2015. At the end of the following year, (2010), his administration had more than tripled the funding for homeless veteran programs. That time, the number of homeless veterans was just slightly above 75,000 (Coll et al., 281). This number has exponentially reduced to around 50, 000 by 2015. Varieties of programs were set up by the administration in those years. The most successful of all those programs was the collaboration of community and federal support through the housing and urban development- Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. This program combines HUD voucher assistance with case management and the provision of clinical services provided by the department of Veteran Affairs (VA). In this program, the VA department conducts a case study and identifies the areas that have the most number of homeless veterans. After, that it sends application forms for those who wish to get help from the HUD vouchers.
Homelessness is self-inflicted among veterans through the abuse of banned substances and alcohol. From prison statistics, most of the veterans end up in prison for offenses related to drug and substance abuse. However, it is important to note that this is not the fault of the military but a problem that lies with the individual soldiers. Specifically, the military service does not to sanction the abuse of drugs and alcohol when the veterans leave service. The military is a much-disciplined force that demands moderation in the intake of alcohol. As such, the abuse of drugs is self-inflicted as the veterans are unable to cope with life outside the military. Notably, when the veterans get out of the war zones, they are kept under the care of the VA department. As such, they do not become homeless because they are betrayed or deserted. Theirs is an individual problem that does not require the intervention of the government but incarceration from the relevant authorities.
To prove that the state of the homeless veterans is self-inflicted is by analyzing the major programs that are meant to cater for their welfare. In this regard, they have free health care services for five years after their discharge date; the VA department has programs for the provision of clinical services, residential treatments, and housing for veterans. More importantly, the counseling services that are offered to the veterans are enough to make them integrate well into the society. However, when they get out of the service, they have a perceived freedom that they think they should exercise through the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Unknowingly, they become addicts and people who cannot be productive in the society. Notably, some of the veterans are very young such that they can serve the state in other capacities. It is for that reason; I opine that the homelessness of the veterans is self-inflicted and that the government has no business in the affairs of individual choices.
A good example of how homelessness among veterans is self inflicted in the case of one Sam in Carrillo et al.s (2012). In this case study, a Veteran Affairs official secured a HUD voucher for Sam. However, Sam did not want to accept this offer, as he was already accustomed to the life in the streets. Additionally, Sam claimed that he was afraid of the responsibilities of maintaining a house on his own. Surprisingly, Sam argued that he enjoyed the comfort level in the streets. Additionally, it was his view that paying rent, utilities and other responsibilities were too much for him to maintain. More surprising is that Sams biggest worry was not to lead a good life but on where he would charge his cell phone. As if that is not surprising enough, Sam prefers to use his disability income on alcohol and cigarettes. The minority of the income is the only amount that Sam intends to use on permanent housing (Carrillo et al., 2012). In such circumstances, there is no need for any government intervention as the problem of homelessness among veterans is self-inflicted. The best the government can do is what is has done. The veterans should be rational and avoid using government neglect as their escape route to engage in drug and substance abuse.
To conclude, homeless veterans are those soldiers who served in different war zones and who have been discharged from the service and have no place to stay. As such, they wander in the streets and live in deserted buildings and other uncomfortable places. There have been contentions that the government has settled all the veteran soldiers. This is not entirely true as there are still others in the streets. In this regard, the government has started various programs that are aimed at providing permanent housing to the homeless veterans. The Obama administration promised to settle all the homeless veteran by 2015. Following that promise, it introduced the Housing And Urban Development- Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. However, this has not helped as the problem of homeless veterans in self-inflicted. In this regard, it is not related to any mistreatment in the service but to individual choices who think that they have every freedom to do what they deem right. This is well presented by Sam who is a homeless veteran. In this case, Sam prefers life in the streets rather than the responsibilities of paying rent, utilities and other responsibilities. From this example, homeless veterans love to live in the streets and the government has no business meddling with their choices.
Better Understanding Needed To Enhance Services To Veterans Readjusting To Civilian Life. GAO Reports (2014):i-47.Business Source Complete.
Carrillo, Edward V., Joseph J. Costello, and C. Yoon Ra. "Homelessness among veterans." Handbook of Military Social Work. John Wiley & Sons (2012): 247-269.
Coll, Jose E., and Eugenia L. Weiss. "Transitioning veterans into civilian life." Handbook of military social work (2013): 281-297.
Cunningham, Mary. "Investment in Affordable Housing Is the Best Way to End Homelessness."Poverty and Homelessness. Ed. Noel Merino. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2014. Current Controversies. Rpt. from "Preventing and Ending HomelessnessNext Steps." Vol. 1. 2009. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
GPD. "Homelessness Among Veterans: Self-Inflicted or Government Betrayal?" VeteransToday.Veterans Today, 02 Sept. 2013.
Lawrence, Quil. The U.S. Declared War On Veteran Homelessness-And It Actually Could Win.NPR 4 August, 2015.
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