According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of homeless veterans on any given night is 57,849.
The statistics are alarming and sad for the number of our nation’s heroes who live on the streets every day due to economic and health concerns that deprived them of a productive life. These men and women who served our country and are now living day to day trying to survive – subjected to the harsh elements and lack of necessities. It is easy for some to turn a blind eye to this problem, but the reality is there are veterans who have lost everything and need our help.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that homeless vets are predominantly male with 8 percent being female. They are usually single, living in larger cities and suffer from either mental illness or substance abuse. About 12 percent of the adult homeless population is veterans.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of homeless veterans on any given night is 57,849. This is the part where we need to pause and think about that. More than 57,000 men and women who served this country at some point are living in shelters, in boxes on back alleys, and on the streets with no safe place to rest or relax. Thank goodness we have service agencies that are out there helping, but more awareness is needed to inform the general public about this serious problem.
The Volunteers of America North Louisiana office in Shreveport sees the need and understands what can be done to help our local veterans who have fallen on hard times. They offer several services to homeless veterans. “Depending on the circumstances at time of military separation, the veteran may not be able to transition well into civilian life. Sometimes the trauma of war makes the transition more complicated,” said Diane Libro, communications director at VOA.
Hope Connections and Hope for the Homeless work in conjunction with the VOA in Shreveport. They provide services for homeless people and homeless veterans. “We recommend homeless veterans contact Hope Connections first at 318.670.4591,” Libro said. “Then a veteran can be offered shelter at Safe Haven in Shreveport, a nine bed facility that will eventually house 25 beds by the end of the year.” The VOA also offers a Veterans Transitional Living Program which is a 56 bed facility that provides food, shelter and guidance to homeless single men. For more information, call 318.212.0660.
Veterans in need can also have families in need. The VOA has a Supportive Services for Veterans Families program for people who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. They can be reached at 318.429.7500. “Veterans and families receive temporary assistance and counseling to help them get back on their feet. We offer a continuum of care from street living to being independent and it all starts with Hope Connections and Safe Haven,” Libro said.
By Caroline King