(TFC) – The National Center on Homelessness among Veterans recently conducted two studies relating to Aging Trends & Mortality of homeless veterans.They say “To better understand the needs and challenges encountered by older homeless Veterans.” They found that older veterans who were homeless had the lowest survival rate of any other group.
Some shocking statistics-
- About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. Around 44% of homeless people were employed.
- 62% of homeless veterans surveyed reported having been homeless for two years or more.
- Veterans were more likely to report liver disease, heart disease, emphysema, Hepatitis C, tuberculosis, frequent frostbite, and mobility limitations.
- Homeless veterans were most likely to be white, at increased risk of serious medical problems, and lack the necessary resources needed to obtain services.
- Older homeless veterans constitute over 20% of the homeless veteran population.
- 47,725, or about 8% of the homeless population, are veterans. This represents a 35% decrease since 2009.
Although the amount of homeless veterans in America has slightly decreased in the last few years spurned on by increased government measures, the primary reason may be that an entire generation of homeless veterans has died on the street, and their deaths have been swept under the rug.
The homelessness study found that the rate of homelessness has decreased slightly, likely due to substantial investment by the federal government in an effort to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. However, the study covered a period of economic downturn, which may have influenced why some Veterans were more inclined to enter into government programs. Consistent with the existing literature, when compared to younger homeless Veterans, older homeless Veterans were more likely to be white, at increased risk of serious medical problems, and substantially more Veterans who were homeless (34.9%) died compared with the control sample.
Another privately funded study the 100,000 Homes Campaign surveyed over 23,000 homeless Americans in 47 communities across the country and found that veterans tend to be homeless longer than non-veterans. In fact, homeless veterans reported an average of nearly six years homeless, compared to four years among non-veterans. Among those who reported spending two or more years homeless, veterans reported an average of nearly nine years homeless, compared to just over seven for 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 in 2013 were over 60, compared to 9.4% of homeless non-veterans Homeless veterans reported a higher incidence of various health conditions linked to increased risk of death among the homeless population.
The very sad reality is that the majority of these people have died on the street in the last few years leading to a significant decline in the homeless veteran population. I write this with compassion for the lives of humans who patriotically fought for this country only to have the country turn their backs on them when they needed help most. Not only did the administration use and abuse these people, and cast them aside, but they then used their deaths as a political tool to promote their own accomplishments at combating homelessness by parading the statistics without and substance or reasoning. The report concluded in 2013 with the conclusion that older veterans were more vulnerable to death on the streets than any other demographic, and since that time the number of homeless has fell by over 30%, some see the silver lining, I can’t help but to morn for those who have perished on the street, abandoned and forgotten by the very society they once risked their lives for..