Out of all the hardships currently being endured by our veterans, perhaps the most troubling is homelessness. According to recent numbers, over 10% of all homeless Americans are military veterans, a number that’s hovering just under 70,000 in total. Additionally, and perhaps even more troubling, is that 89% of these vets received an honorable discharge from their service duties.
Why are vet homeless rates so high? You can blame PTSD, medical bills, unemployment or a number of other factors — but blame won’t put roofs over their heads or food on tables before them. Instead of focusing on blame and anger, do something about it. If you need to know where to begin looking, look no further than the list below.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA Supportive Housing Program (or HUD-VASH) has allocated nearly 40,000 vouchers to veterans all over the nation as part of its “Housing Choice” initiative. This allows vets and their families to find appropriate, market-rate rental housing which the VA handles the administrative costs of (including subsidies paid to landlord and local housing authorities). For more information on HUD-VASH, find a local VA bureau in your area.
One of the easiest ways to go about helping disabled veterans is through nonprofits and charity organizations that specialize in providing for them. Consider that the average American tosses away pounds and pounds of old clothing every year, while all you have to do to help a needy veteran is donate it. Consider, too, how far your clothing donations for veterans would actually go. Most homeless vets would appreciate new shoes, jackets and pants, after all.
Clothing donations aren’t the only donations for veterans you can help with. Most shelters accept food donations as long as it’s canned or dry food, and plenty of larger organizations accept monetary donations as well — some of them are even tax-deductible. But more importantly, you can donate your free time to help out the understaffed organizations and nonprofits in your area. Look up the closest ones in order to see what you can do today.
The best thing you can do for a person in need is to not ignore them, and that goes double for someone who’s given his or her service to the country. Keep these tips in mind when you want to help combat vet homelessness in your neighborhood. Read more.