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Archive for the ‘veterans’ Category

“While few Americans are sheltered from the jolt of the recent economic crisis, the nation’s newest veterans, particularly the wounded, are being hit especially hard. The triple-whammy of injury, unemployment and waiting for disability claims to be processed has forced many veterans into foreclosure, or sent them teetering on its edge, according to veterans’ organizations.”

The rest of this article can be found by following this link.

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In honor of Veterans’ Day, here is an article on CNN.com about how Pathways to Housing, a Housing First program that is ending veteran homelessness in New York City. More behind the jump.

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CNN did a short story on Homeless Veterans in Washington, D.C., highlighting that post traumatic stress disorder is a contributing factor to homelessness and almost 2,000 Iraq War veterans around the country are homeless (according to the US Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs).

See the video here.

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This is an interesting article from the Associated Press. We are noticing some of the same issues in Buffalo and Erie County.

New Homeless vets

Wars produce new homeless vets
Some question whether U.S.got message from Vietnam

By Erin McClam – ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated: 01/20/08 6:52 AM

LEEDS, Mass. – Peter Mohan traces his path from the Iraqi battlefield to this lifeless conference room, where he sits in a kilt and a Camp Kill Yourself T-shirt and calmly describes how he became a homeless veteran.

After a happy homecoming came an accident – car crash, broken collarbone. And then a move east, close to his wife’s new job but away from his best friends.

Then self-destruction: He would gun his motorcycle to 100 mph and try to stand on the seat. He would wait for his wife to leave in the morning, draw the blinds and open up whatever bottle of booze was closest.

He would pull out his gun, a .45-caliber, semiautomatic pistol. He would lovingly clean it, or just look at it and put it away. Sometimes he would place it in his mouth.

“I don’t know what to do anymore,” his wife, Anna, told him one day. “You can’t be here anymore.”

Peter Mohan never did find a steady job after he left Iraq. He lost his wife – a judge granted their divorce this fall – and he lost his friends, and he lost his home, and now he is here, in a shelter.

He is 28 years old. “People come back from war different,” he said.

This is not a new story: a young veteran back from war whose struggle to rejoin society has failed, at least for the moment, fighting demons and left homeless.

But it is happening to a new generation. With the war in Afghanistan plodding into its seventh year and the war in Iraq in its fifth, a new cadre of homeless veterans is taking shape.

With it come the questions: How is it that a nation that became so familiar with the homeless, combat-addled Vietnam veteran is now watching as more homeless veterans turn up from new wars?

What lessons have we not learned? Who is failing these people? Or is homelessness an unavoidable byproduct of war?

For as long as the United States has sent its young men – and later its young women – off to war, it has watched as a segment of them come home and lose the battle with their own memories and their own scars, then wind up without homes.

The Civil War produced thousands of wandering veterans. Frequently addicted to morphine, they were known as “tramps,” searching for jobs and, in many cases, literally still tending their wounds.

More than a decade after the end of World War I, the “Bonus Army” descended on Washington – demanding immediate payment on benefits that had been promised to them, but payable years later – and were routed by the U.S. military.

And, most publicly and perhaps most painfully, after Vietnam came tens of thousands of war-weary veterans, infamously rejected or forgotten by many of their own fellow citizens. Now it is happening again.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has identified about 1,500 homeless veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. About 400 of them have taken part in VA programs designed to target homelessness.

People who have studied postwar trauma point to a lengthy gap between coming home and the moments of utter darkness that leave some veterans homeless.

In that time, usually a period of years, some veterans focus on the horrors they saw on the battlefield, or the friends they lost, or why on earth they themselves deserved to come home at all.

They self-medicate, develop addictions, spiral down.

How – or perhaps the better question is why – is this happening again?

Mental illness, financial troubles and difficulty in finding affordable housing are generally accepted as the three primary causes of homelessness among veterans, and in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, the first has raised particular concern.

Iraq veterans are less likely to have substance abuse problems but more likely to suffer mental illness, particularly posttraumatic stress, according to the Veterans Administration. And that stress by itself can trigger substance abuse.

Some advocates also cite factors particular to the Iraq War, like multiple deployments and the proliferation of improvised explosive devices, that could be pulling an early trigger on stress disorders that can lead to homelessness.

While many Vietnam veterans began showing manifestations of stress disorders roughly 10 years after returning from the front, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have shown the signs much earlier.

That could also be because stress disorders are much better understood now than they were a generation ago, advocates say.

“There’s something about going back, and a third and a fourth time, that really aggravates that level of stress,” said Michael Blecker, executive director of Swords to Plowshares,” a San Francisco homeless-vet outreach program.

“And being in a situation where you have these IEDs, everywhere’s a combat zone. There’s no really safe zone there. I think that all is just a stew for posttraumatic stress disorder.”

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In honor of Veterans’ Day, here is a second post on innovative housing models serving the needs of veterans that are chronically homeless. Someone is defined as chronically homeless when he or she is an unaccompanied individual, has a disabling condition, and is homeless consecutively for one year or more or has experienced four or more episodes of homelessness in a 3-year period.

homelessvets

The New York Times published this article last week about a homeless housing project in Seattle that allows those with chemical addictions to stay in permanent housing (not an emergency shelter) and still be able to use. This model has been effective throughout the country in ending chronic homelessness.

Bill Hobson, director of the Seattle Downtown Emergency Services Center, provides a good response to those who are angry about the housing that, as some see it, rewards those suffering from addictions by giving them housing:

First, he says, the complaints reflect no understanding of the grip of alcoholism: “Do you really think these men and women would rather live on the streets?” Second, the cost to the public appears to have dropped as the number of visits to the emergency room, jail and the sobering center has plummeted.

Finally, he asks, “what kind of equation of humanity is this: Since you refuse to stop drinking, since you refuse to address your disease, you must die on the streets.”

“These guys have nothing going for them,” he says. “They could not be more dispossessed.”

It isn’t mentioned in the article but one of the reason this housing model is so effective is because it is low-demand. Often, housing providers using traditional models require that those who have chemical addictions discontinue their drug abuse and seek treatment. Yet, this expectation is a barrier to their ability to have stable housing; therefore, they are unable to access shelter and instead must go to the only other options available to them: jails or hospitals, which cost far more for taxpayers than stabilized housing.

Safe Haven housing offers housing first and allows one to maintain that housing even if he or she does not want to seek treatment. Yet, as this article demonstrates, there is a significant relationship between having stable housing and one’s willingness to seek treatment. Safe Haven models make available drug treatment, but do not require it for entry. Not only are Safe Haven models effective in offering an alternative to the street to those who are chronically homeless but also are working well to treat chemical addiction as it effects this particular population.

Safe Haven housing models work for chronically homeless individuals who are in need of stable housing without a lot of stipulations, taxpayers who want cost-effective homeless services models, and service providers who are able to provide the housing and services over a period of time that makes sense to the client while moving them toward greater independence.

Read the NY Times article here.

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Keys to A Home

The Homeless Alliance would like to hear your thoughts on this Associated Press video on a Washington, D.C. Housing First model called Pathways to Housing.

This model is working effectively to end homelessness by offering housing placement first followed by case management services.

The veteran resident interview by Associated Press was homeless for 10 years before coming to Pathways to Housing, demonstrating the effectiveness of Housing First for some individuals and families experiencing chronic homelessness.

Watch the 2 minute video here.

Please feel free to comment and give your thoughts on this model.

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