Although Veterans Day is a day on which the nation remembers the sacrifices those in the military have endured, most are unaware of the battle still being fought. Many who have served return from the battlefield without a home. Homelessness among veterans is all too common. On Veterans Day 2015, efforts to combat this issue will bring a new beginning to servicemen and their families.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the nation’s homeless veterans are predominately male. Only eight percent are female. Of the total homeless population, 12 percent are veterans. Alarmingly, 1.4 million other veterans are classified as being at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support services, and overcrowded, substandard living conditions.
Many homeless veterans live with the lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder as well as substance abuse. Further complicating reentry into civilian life is the difficulty in finding employment as many military occupations and training rarely transfer well to the civilian workforce. Military veterans are in need of secure housing, basic health care, substance abuse care, and mental health counseling as well as job training. Unfortunately, government agencies have failed to eradicate the multitude of issues plaguing veterans.
Veteran homelessness is not a problem that can be effectively addressed solely by government intervention. Existing government agencies working collaboratively through community-based initiatives have provided hope that veteran homelessness may someday be a thing of the past. The most effective programs in addressing the needs of the veteran population have been community-based. Operation Reveille is one such organization that has used $1.3 million in both public and private funding to provide furnished homes stocked with food and household supplies. They have brought to public consciousness the idea that Veterans Day is more than just a day in November.
Jason Gravette, an Army veteran from Tampa, Florida, knows firsthand the difficulty in acclimating back into civilian life. Gravette’s feelings of depression and of being alone created obstacles that were seemingly insurmountable. For Gravette, this Veterans Day will bring a new beginning for him and his family. According to the Tampa Bay Times, on Veterans Day 2015, Gravette was just one of over 53 veteran families to receive help in finding a stable home.
The Osprey Observer reports that a spokesperson for the event, Jane Watkinson, expressed that along with housing, wraparound services are also provided to the veterans. These services include intensive case management, employment services, health care, and financial counseling. Watkinson added that the goal is to put in place a system of collaboration so that no veteran will ever sleep on the streets again.
U.S. military veterans are citizens who have given of themselves to preserve the values and ideals that have made the United States a nation where all citizens have the opportunity to live life to the fullest. Veterans are men and women who have volunteered to serve their country; sometimes going overseas with the uncertainty of when or if they would return. Bravery, determination, and intense loyalty are just some of the attributes that are associated with the military. On the battlefield, no man is ever left behind. It is the obligation of all who call the United States home to lend a hand to those who have sacrificed so much. The efforts of Operation Reveille will ensure that Veterans Day will bring with it a new beginning and renewed hope for those who are so deserving.
Opinion by Garrett Sayers
Edited by Cathy Milne
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
Tampa Bay Times: Operation Reveille Provides Housing, Services for Homeless Veterans
Fox News 13 Tampa: Initiative Aims to Get Veterans, Families into Homes
Osprey Observer: Local Agencies Join Forces To End Veteran Homelessness With Operation Reveille
Featured Image Courtesy of Jake Bellucci’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License