I am speaking on behalf of United Way Worldwide on the problem of veteran homelessness in America. For many, after a long day at work or school, being able to go home, whether that be a house, condo, or apartment, and relax is a daily activity. Shelter and security are the third most important human needs, right behind water and food.
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Does anyone in the audience have friends or relatives in the military? Do you know that people in the military are at higher risk of becoming homeless, regardless of their age? Many American veterans are living on the streets of the very country they once risked their lives for. While the official statistics on homeless veterans are relatively low, the statistics do not include veterans who experience financial struggles. Therefore, in the case of the country’s financial instability, the number of homeless veterans will increase dramatically. The time to put the resources and effort of every American into stopping homelessness is now.
Despite multiple measures performed in the last decade to combat veteran homelessness, it still is a large problem in American society today. It is expected that the financial consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will negatively affect the problem, and the number of homeless veterans will increase in further data (Moses, 2020).
Several risk factors contribute to the problem of veteran homelessness. According to a study by Ackerman et al.(2020), the risk of homelessness gradually increases with the veterans’ combat experience and injuries (2020). The other significant risk factor is mental illnesses and their consequences. Because of PTSD, veterans have troubles communicating with other people, which results in social isolation and substance abuse. Many veterans do not have families because of their communication struggles. The combination of mental health problems, substance abuse and injuries explains the veterans’ unemployment rates and financial troubles in rent payments.
The primary concern for improving the state of the problem of veterans’ homelessness is affordable housing. Civilians’ support is an essential component of the solution; therefore, I encourage the audience to show support for the people who contributed a significant part of their lives to protecting the country and its interests.
Veteran homelessness is a widespread issue across the country, and with the magnitude of this problem comes a large variety of solutions from hundreds of nonprofit organizations. Specifically in New York, the nonprofit organization Friends of Veterans New York works to support struggling veterans within New York. I urge my audience to donate to Friends of Veterans New York, either financially or in from of time for service. I recommend the audience connect with veterans daily, whether they are homeless or not.
Society, in general, is not familiar with the composition of the homeless population, which means that most people express biased negativity towards homeless people. I encourage you to educate yourself and your surrounding people on different categories of people within the homeless population. Understanding that the homeless population includes military veterans and survivors of domestic violence is important for building the foundation of support. If you experience troubles with a financial commitment to the issue, you may try alternative methods to support homeless people, such as volunteering.
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In conclusion, while it seems that the issue of veteran homelessness does not present a significant threat to society, the situation could be worsened at any moment. To prevent the worst outcomes, the conscious members of society should work together to help with the improvements of the situation. There are not as many homeless veterans as it used to be, meaning that the issue could be eliminated with due effort. Spreading awareness about the issue and convincing others to donate to non-profit organizations that help veterans will help substantially increase the quality of life for people willing to give up their lives for the country’s protection.
Ackerman, A., Porter, B., & Sullivan, R. (2020). The effect of combat exposure on veteran homelessness. Journal of Housing Economics, 49,1-14. Web.
Amadeo, K. (2020). US military budget, its components, challenges, and growth. The balance. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-military-budget-components-challenges-growth-3306320
Chinchilla, M., Gabrielian, S., Glasmeier, A., & Green, M. F. (2020). Exploring community integration among formerly homeless veterans in project-based versus tenant-based supportive housing. Community Mental Health Journal, 56, 303–312. Web.
Dam, A. V. (2019). The surprising holes in our knowledge of America’s homeless population. The Washington Post. Web.