Veteran Homelessness: A uphill battle | Teen Ink

Veteran Homelessness: A uphill battle

April 29, 2019
By eligarcia4020 BRONZE, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
eligarcia4020 BRONZE, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Homeless Veterans: A uphill battle

“Home of the brave, land of the free.” Well, freedom isn’t so free; veterans both retired and active duty have had to put their lives on the line for this country to protect that freedom. Although some claim it is impossible to end homelessness, homelessness is an issue that can be solved little by little. Veterans return from overseas to be offered little in return and end up in poverty. With many small solutions, less veterans will be left on the streets.

 

Veteran homelessness doesn’t just affect certain parts of the nation; it’s an issue that stretches across the entire nation. Who are these homeless veterans; homeless veterans are mostly male, single, live in urban areas, African American and Hispanic, and suffer from substance abuse and mental illnesses.i There are associations that help to combat this issue such as the Department of Veterans Affairs which takes care of most of our veterans. However, the process of receiving such care is increasingly frustrating from extremely long response times and backed up claim logs from the VA. The program responsible for housing homeless veterans is the HUD-VASH (Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) that provides vouchers for housing.ii

 

One issue with the HUD-VASH is that most homeless veterans are located in unsafe areas where there is an absence of housing units that accept HUD-VASH vouchers.iii Another issue is that landlords don’t want to rent their property or accept vouchers to and from veterans which makes programs trying to reintegrate these homeless veterans back to society much more difficult.iv Lastly, veteran agencies handle housing cases poorly; a veteran requests help for housing but doesn’t make the criteria, so the agency hands over their case to another agency where they go back and forth trying to find an agency that sees them as eligible.v

Housing isn’t going to end homelessness on its own. Veterans need more than just supportive housing; to start off is a reform of the Veterans Affairs disability benefits system. From veterans being wrongfully denied benefits, veterans dying due to delayed appointments, and extremely long wait times;vi the Veterans Affairs system of claims is failing our soldiers who fought so hard for this country. For Susan Hoffman, the Los Angeles VA failed her husband Allen after he died from Stage IV prostate cancer.vii Doctors said his enlarged prostate was no issue; his condition worsened and went in to see a specialist.viii He was told that his appointment was only a consult and that there are others who have cancer and you don’t.ix Allen was later diagnosed four months and would later succumb to the cancer one year and a half. x

 

The Veterans Affairs Scandal of 2014 didn’t help their reputation either as reports from their own inspector showed that there were false reports of appointment wait times being shorter than they realistically were at the Phoenix VA.xi Across to the Cheyenne VA, employees were told to falsify reports of wait times or else there would be consequences.xii According to Dr. Christin Head, about one hundred

forty-thousand patients were deleted on purpose; as in the patient would come in for diagnosis then disappear from the system to come back with severe diseases.xiii

 

Though the VA’s system to taking care of our veterans may be flawed, they have accomplished somewhat a victory towards ending veteran homelessness. With the Obama administration, they set a goal during 2010 to end veteran homelessness by 2015. Of course, the goal was never met but nearly 50% of veterans were no longer experiencing homelessness.xiv Veteran homelessness is completely eradicated in Virginia, Connecticut, and reduced from one thousand to one hundred fifteen vets in New Mexico.xv

Even giving a sandwich to a homeless veteran can spark a fuse and cause that person to go out and change their life for the better. Our veterans are important and we should try our best to take care of them for all they have done for our country. Reform of the VA’s system can help may get the treatment they need. Reform the HUD-VASH so that many can have a place to call home and feel safe with a roof over their head.


The author's comments:

i National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. (n.d.). Retrieved from nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/ ii VHA Office of Mental Health. (2012, March 09). Homeless Veterans. Retrieved from va.gov/homeless/hud-vash.asp iii Hesse, K. (2015, February 27). Homeless Women Vets: No Housing and Lack of Accountability. Retrieved from nvf.org/homeless-women-vets-no-housing-accountability iv Ibid, 2015 v Ibid, 2015 vi Why the VA frustrates veterans. (n.d.). Retrieved from cbsnews.com/news/why-the-va-frustrates-veterans/ vii CBS News. (2017, June 23). Nearly 100 patients died waiting for care from Los Angeles VA. Retrieved from cbsnews.com/news/los-angeles-veterans-affairs-hospital-patients-died-waiting-for-care/ viii Ibid, 2017 ix Ibid, 2017 x Ibid, 2017 xi Andrews, W. (2014, July 03). Despite scandal over waiting times, VA executives got bonuses. Retrieved from cbsnews.com/news/as-veterans-waited-for-medical-treatment-va-executives-got-bonuses/ xii Ibid, 2014 xiii Ibid, 2017 xiv Veteran Homelessness Drops Nearly 50 Percent Since 2010. (n.d.). Retrieved from dod.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/881729/veteran-homelessness-drops-nearly-50-percent-since-2010/ xv Mcdermott, J., & Associated Press. (n.d.). As Obama leaves office, goal on homeless veterans goes unmet. Retrieved from stripes.com/news/veterans/as-obama-leaves-office-goal-on-homeless-veterans-goes-unmet-1.447476


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