Combat ought to be the most difficult experience of a veteran’s life, but a new report on veteran homelessness reveals that many veterans go on to become homeless for eight or nine times the length of their deployments.
The resulting data shows 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 their non-veteran peers.
Among those who said they had been homeless for two years or more, homeless veterans reported an average of nearly nine years homeless, compared to over seven for non-veterans.
A veteran’s age accounted for only part of this disparity. Length of homelessness matters because the longer people spend on the streets, the more health risks they tend to develop.
Among the 62% of homeless veterans who reported two or more years of homelessness, over 61% reported a serious physical health condition, 55% reported a mental health condition, 76% reported a substance abuse habit, and 32% reported all three.
As a group, veterans were 11 percentage points more likely to suffer from at least one condition linked to increased risk of death among the homeless population, which means the men and women who risked their lives defending America may be far more likely to die on its streets.
It doesn't have to be this way.