Substance abuse and homelessness are two major issues that can often be intertwined, especially in the case of veterans. The use of drugs and alcohol can exacerbate mental health conditions, which can then lead to joblessness, eviction, and eventually homelessness. Of all homeless people in the US, it is estimated that up to 50% of them experience substance abuse problems. But how do veterans factor into this equation?
Though veterans comprise only 7% of the US population, they make up an alarming 11% of the homeless population. Of these homeless veterans, nearly 80% struggle with substance abuse. This number is particularly concerning given that research shows that veterans are more likely to use drugs and drink heavily than their non-veteran peers. They may use substances as a coping mechanism for the physical and psychological traumas they experienced while serving, and such usage can act as a trigger for other issues that eventually compound to cause homelessness.
Homelessness and substance abuse lead to a variety of health issues for those affected, including malnutrition, respiratory infections, and an increased risk of accidents and injuries. For veterans, these issues can be further complicated by factors like PTSD, which can make it even more difficult to treat substance abuse. In addition, the financial costs of homeless veterans have been estimated to be about twice as much as for non-homeless veterans; providing housing and healthcare for these individuals can be an expensive and complex undertaking.
Recognizing the severity of the problem, the US government has taken various steps to address the issue of homeless veterans with substance abuse problems. One solution is the Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program, which was created in 2009. This program provides housing vouchers for homeless veterans and connects them to supportive services that can address substance abuse and mental health issues. Community outreach and engagement have also been identified as important strategies to connect homeless veterans with the services they need.
However, there is still much work to be done to address the root causes of substance abuse and homelessness among veterans. One thing that people can do to help is to advocate for policies that support affordable housing and addiction treatment programs. Volunteering with organizations that support homeless veterans can also make a big difference.
The connection between substance abuse and homelessness cannot be ignored, especially when it involves veterans who have already given so much in service to their country. Working towards a comprehensive solution involves addressing the complex issues surrounding addiction, housing insecurity, and mental health. By addressing these issues, we can help ensure that all veterans have access to the housing and services they need to thrive.
At Mighty Hero Homes we endeavor to provide our veterans with the hope they need by making sure they know that they are not alone, and their needs are not ignored. Our on base substance abuse services and ongoing therapy are never more than a few steps away. To learn more visit us at: https://mightyherohomes.org/pages/about-us
The Mighty Hero Home Foundation is a Non-Profit Organization operating within the provisions of IRS code 501 (c)(3) which allows for contributions to be tax deductible by the donor. IRS #87-3826552.