Veterans Committee: Homelessness – A Continuing Issue for Veterans

Jean L. Washington, LCPL USMC

It’s 2023 and yet the pandemic of homeless veterans across the United States is still ever present. So you may be asking what is the big deal? Today’s veterans face many difficult challenges when returning from war. We continue to fight for the most basic services including adequate medical care, accessible treatment facilities, recognition for the trauma we experience while fighting including Post Traumatic Stress. Veterans should not have to face homelessness on top of all of this.

In today’s America, the number of homeless veterans is shameful. In January 2022, there were 33,136 veterans who were experiencing homelessness in the United States, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In my home state of New York, there are a total 678,833 veterans; 6.8% live in poverty and 1,270 are homeless. Organizations such as such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, National Association for Black Veterans help, but it’s not enough.

Our veterans still deal with a lot, and while our government is doing something it still isn’t enough. Especially when they cut funding or take away programs that help. Our veterans shouldn’t have to look to outside entities to give monetarily to help them navigate through the rest of their lives.

As veterans, we are still dealing with the outside world. Yes, I said the outside world because we feel and, in many ways, we are on the outside looking in. We struggle to survive and thrive while at the same time facing addiction, alcoholism, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), suicide, anger, and homelessness. No one will ever understand the adversity and challenges that we face day in and day out — including how hard it is to put one foot in front of the other and even to get out of bed.

One homeless veteran is one too many. As a nation, we should do better. We can do better. We should do better. We veterans sacrifice our lives for our country. Sacrifice our families for our country. Our country should be doing the same for us. When will our country do more for us?