- Best company ever? Veteran Beer Co. exists to employ vets, provide quality beer
- Iran official: Sanctions ‘utterly failed’ to stop nuclear program
- ‘Black Santa’ display at IU sparks student outrage
- Joint Chiefs chair Dempsey: Pentagon, VA too slow in merging medical systems
- Sen. Ben Cardin hits Ukraine for crackdown on Kiev protests
- Drone technology turns South, targets feral pigs to kill
- Puerto Rico caravan honoring Paul Walker ends in 6 drunken-driving arrests, 72 speeding tickets
- Better pack a lightsaber: House told space explorers could find alien life in 10 years
- Selfies gone too far? N.Y. woman snaps photo in front of suicidal man on bridge
- High times on D.C. radio: Toronto’s crack-addled Mayor Ford gets sports spot
SOLUTIONS/BASSUK: Ending homelessness among returning war veterans
Question of the Day
In a country as affluent as ours, no one should be homeless. Yet veterans who have served their country account for one-third of adult individuals who are homeless in America.
On any night, more than 130,000 veterans find themselves with no place to call home. Seven percent are women. Ending veteran homelessness starts with understanding why they become homeless.
At its core, homelessness is caused by a gap between income and the cost of housing. Given the diminished stock of affordable housing, people at the bottom of the wage scale are at greatest risk for homelessness. A minimum-wage worker cannot earn enough to pay for a two-bedroom dwelling anywhere in the United States.
Despite greater opportunities for education and training that arise from their military service, many veterans also struggle to make ends meet. Researchers report that nearly half a million veterans pay more than 50 percent of their income for rent.
TWT RELATED STORY:
• SOLUTIONS/DONOVAN: Ending homelessness among returning war veterans
While veterans overall earn higher-than-average wages, some have difficulty translating military training and experience into civilian jobs. Others find their wounds (both visible and invisible) an impediment.
Housing vouchers are a proven solution, as are investments in education and job training. Such well-recognized supports are part of a five-year, $3.2 billion initiative by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to end veteran homelessness. The challenge is to ensure that vouchers fully pay for decent housing and that funding is available for preventive measures such as rapid rehousing.
Affordable housing is essential to the solution, but not sufficient. Social networks, including services and supports, play a critical role in anchoring people in housing and the community. This is especially important if a veteran is struggling with medical, mental health or substance use issues.
Family, friends, service providers and community supports can buoy people up in times of crisis, allowing them to survive until circumstances improve. Without such a network, a person has nowhere to turn for financial or emotional support that will help prevent a downward spiral.
Most returning veterans are able to re-engage in their lives and become self-sustaining, often with help from family, friends and caretakers. Veterans without social networks can find themselves isolated and overusing alcohol to deal with their distress — factors that contribute to their higher risk for homelessness. Strong social networks often make the difference between a productive life in the community or being out on the streets.
Soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). In response, the military has provided extensive resources to address these issues. Because a highly developed network of ongoing supports is available for veterans with PTSD and TBI, these veterans are at substantially lower risk for becoming homeless. This clearly illustrates how support networks can mitigate the risk for homelessness.
Even though family, friends and caretakers are essential for supporting veterans in the community, resources provided by the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs may not extend beyond the veteran. Private and nonprofit organizations are trying to bridge this gap, but the unmet need is great.
Given what we know about the significant role of social networks in protecting against homelessness, and the success the military has had in supporting veterans with PTSD and TBI, further resources should be allocated toward bolstering veterans' supports. The private sector cannot do this alone.
The National Center on Family Homelessness is working with the Wal-Mart Foundation to fill a gap in veterans' services by developing and implementing Community Circles of Support for Veterans' Families.
This multisite program seeks to strengthen veterans' social networks by offering a clinical intervention that pairs returning war veterans with a parent, sibling or partner, and provides opportunities for peer-to-peer networking. This initiative also builds capacity among community-based social service providers. The knowledge gained from this program will guide us in establishing and maintaining resilient networks to keep veterans stably housed.
The men and women who serve in our military give us all the chance to thrive in our homes and communities. It is unconscionable that they should not also have homes of their own.
As a nation, we must be committed to ensuring that each and every veteran is provided with decent housing and the means to secure it. We owe them much more, but certainly no less.
• Dr. Ellen L. Bassuk is the president and founder of the National Center on Family Homelessness, which leads the effort to prevent and end homelessness for children and families in America.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
Bad science puts rich nations on the hook for trillions in climate liabilities
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
- Doctors say profound new HIV treatment may prove the cure
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- EDITORIAL: Motor City meltdown
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Last call: State Dept. bought $180,000 in liquor before shutdown
- MILLER: Obamas EPA closing smelter will not affect ammunition supply
- Obama: Growing income inequality 'defining challenge' of this generation
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Career Doctor Cassi Fields prescribes valuable advice for anyone looking to find a career, nail an interview or earn a promotion.
Headlines from Associated Press and around the Internet
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
This column will cover anything that has anything remotely to do with the game of baseball, from the game itself to mid-summer trades to offseason moves.