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Why Are There Homeless Veterans in America?

By       Message Richard Aberdeen       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   6 comments, In Series: FIXING AMERICA IN 500 WORDS OR LESS

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Why Are There Homeless Veterans in America?
(Image by Freedom Tracks Records )
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United States Homeless veterans include a significant number from recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Many suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and severe sleep deprivation, as well as other severe health issues. Often people who have never suffered from the inability to sleep are unaware of how great a toll this takes in preventing those who do from functioning well enough to hold down a steady job. 

Many veterans have lost civilian jobs due to extended tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and upon returning home find it very difficult to support themselves and their families.  Many who are not currently homeless are in danger of becoming so because of ongoing economic hard times.  At least a half million veterans pay over 50% of their income for rent or a mortgage.

Estimates of the total number of homeless U.S. citizens range from highly questionable official government statistics of under 1 million to far more likely accurate numbers of 3-5 million, over a million being children.  At least 1 in 4 homeless citizens is a veteran or the spouse or child of a veteran. 

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According to the Los Angeles Times, the homeless population grew in all 25 cities included in a 2013 survey.  There were officially 22,000 homeless children and 52,000 total homeless in New York City shelters--figures that left uncounted the many additional homeless not in shelters. The official number of homeless for L.A. County--which left out the many more in neighboring counties--was 58,000. Nationally, there were officially 68,000 homeless college students. All of these official counts are considered to be on the extreme low side of the actual numbers.

Various social service providers report that, while lack of income, disabilities, sickness, mental health issues and substance abuse all contribute to homelessness, the primary reason Americans are homeless is the lack of affordable housing. And, according to mayors and other city leaders nationwide, that problem is growing worse. 

Regardless of religious, political or other persuasion, there is no excuse for citizens of the United States to allow even one veteran to be homeless.  Nor is there any excuse to allow one senior, one child or anyone else to remain homeless.  Politicians failing to make helping the homeless a top priority should never be elected and be permanently removed from office. 

Americans who sit idly by and make no attempt to address and alleviate problems of poverty in our nation openly display their lack of patriotism. They also reveal an absence of  historical and moral understanding, and of personal maturity, self-respect and dignity. 

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Do Americans who ignore the plight of homeless veterans really support the troops?  Can we march in parades, waving flags and pretending to be patriotic, while we continue to ignore our growing homeless population--even when we know that the causes of homelessness can strike almost anyone at any time, no matter their strength of character?   

What kind of nation is it that can claim to be the greatest nation on earth and a beacon for freedom and democracy, while millions of her own citizens live in open squalor?  Why are there homeless veterans in America?  Why are there homeless seniors and children in America?  Why is anyone homeless in America?  You decide.  


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Richard Aberdeen is a Nashville, Tennessee based author and songwriter and owner of Freedom Tracks Records, a multi-genre independent record label focusing on political and social issues, where the music is always free.

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