How Can We Prevent Veterans From Being Homeless?
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How can we prevent veterans from being homeless? Whose responsibility is it to help them?
Homelessness is not simply a person without a place to sleep at night. As Steve Peck, CEO of U.S. Vets writes in his article in the Huffington Post, “homelessness is the end result of a whole series of events that result in diminished capacity, loss of self-determination, most often loss of employment, loss of family, isolation, poverty, and lack of self-esteem, all leading to inability to pay for housing.”
Since the mid-eighties our country has seen a growth in homelessness. Peck notes, “To the surprise of some, veterans have been part of this unfortunate minority; surprise because these men and women are part of an American military alternately described as ‘warriors’ and ‘heroes.’”
Although it is difficult to determine a completely accurate number as the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness, and about 1.4 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
Homeless veterans continues to be an issue during the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans claims that homeless veterans are younger on average than the total veteran population. Approximately 9% are between the ages of 18 and 30, and 41% are between the ages of 31 and 50. Conversely, only 5% of all veterans are between the ages of 18 and 30, and less than 23% are between 31 and 50. The number of young homeless veterans is increasing, but only constitutes 8.8% of the overall homeless veteran population.
In addition to the complex set of factors influencing all homelessness – extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care – a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks. Additionally, military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment.
RobBlissCreative video Homeless Veteran Timelapse Transformation
U.S. Army Veteran Jim Wolf has struggled with alcoholism, poverty, and homelessness for decades. But in September 2013, he agreed to go through a physical transformation. Rob Bliss, a local filmmaker, teamed up with Degage Ministries, a stylist, and a production team to create this timelapse video of Wolf’s several-hour makeover. “The homeless are people we ignore every day,” Bliss said. And so he wanted his video to show how, with just a little support, anyone “can look like they’re meant for the cover of GQ.” It’s hard not to gasp at the end result.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowVets
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
PBS NewsHour Extra lesson plan The Greatest Sacrifice- A Lesson Plan for Veterans Day
This 4 part lesson plan that focuses on Veteran’s Day, contains a warm up activity, videos, interactive timelines and maps, a main activity, and a writing prompts that are all aligned to Common Core Standards.
San Jose Mercury News post Bills to help California’s Homeless Vets Signed into Law
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a number of bills Thursday aimed at helping veterans, including legislation that could provide funds to expand affordable housing to combat homelessness among former service members.
Isaac Goeckeritz’ docucmentary film Street Vets
Over 100,000 United States Veterans are homeless every year. In a powerful, one-hour documentary, filmmaker Issac Goeckeritz takes viewers into the largely invisible world of homeless veterans and the difficult, but hopeful, pathways home. This film aired on KUED in January 2011.
KQED QUEST radio segment Can Meditation Ease PTSD in Combat Vets?
Among veterans, mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder are epidemic. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that one in every four Iraq or Afghanistan vets is suffering from PTSD.