A veteran is being provided with a new home by a team of fellow veteran volunteers, and Habitat for Humanity. The volunteers come from Florida Veterans For Common Sense (FLCVS), and they are teaming up with the faith-based organisation Habitat for Humanity to build the new home. The project is going ahead in Sarasota, Florida, and has gained sponsorship from Bank of America.
Habitat for Humanity has a number of rules that must be followed in order to benefit from their program, you have to work at least 300 hours on the project, and be able to afford the mortgage afterwards. However, once the dedication ceremony is done, the veteran will be the owner of a brand new home. They also have a home repair program open to those whose income is 80% or less of local area income. In this instance the program is being helped along by FLCVS, an organisation that campaigns for fair treatment of US veterans through reform of the Veterans Administration.
The aim of this work is to support ex soldiers who are reentering civilian life, after serving in Iraq and or Afghanistan, and who need extra support, such as the veteran being helped with a new home in Florida. Indeed, many returning vets find the transition back to civilian life hard after possibly years of service. One of the major issues facing veterans is unemployment, and the unemployment rate amongst veterans is higher than the general public. They often struggle to support themselves and their families, while moving back into civilian life. At the current count 1.7 million American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been discharged from the military. Of these 950,000 have sort assistance for, and been diagnosed with medical conditions. Almost 900,000 have sought disability support.
One of the principal conditions that veterans seek help for is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Over 200,000 claims have been approved by the VA on the grounds of PTSD, but this represents only a fifth of those claims filed.
However, the war in Afghanistan is not over and continues to be fought by US and Allied forces. Although this year has been less bloody for coalition troops, as the Afghan’s own security forces step up and try and deal with the Taliban, this year is still expected to one of the bloodiest years. Indeed, when US and other forces withdraw from Afghanistan this december the Afghan security forces will be on their own. It is expected that they will find it extremely difficult to deal with the Taliban, and significant amounts of territory will fall back into Taliban hands after western forces leave the county. A debate is currently raging over whether the size of the force is anywhere near the numbers needed. The Afghan security forces are expected to number just over 200,000 at the end of the year. Strategic studies suggest that without a force approaching 400,000 many gains against the Taliban will be lost.
Either way, there will be many more veterans looking for help with new homes in Florida in the coming months, as homelessness is a problem that continues to dog american veterans.
By Andrew Willig