Veterans after Service: Problem of Homelessness

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Ever since the American Revolution, our servicemen in uniform have protected us from both foreign and domestic threats. They put their lives on the line, and many gave them, so we can live happily in our homes. Our country should be proud and support our military men and women because they have sacrificed mentally, emotionally, and physically. After their service home is not what it once was.

During their service for our country, these soldiers go through a lot of trauma due to the effect of war. Judson Clarke Janak talks about studies of the physiological conditions our troops have when they come back to their homes. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is something that has haunted veterans all over the world, it was called by many names, such as shell shock in World War I, but all are the same (BBC Home). The Wounded Warrior Project website explains PTSD as “... a diagnosed condition that can develop after a person is exposed to a traumatic event. Symptoms can include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, mental or physical distress, difficulty sleeping, and changes in how a person thinks and feels.” Most of the veterans that suffer from PTSD get it from the battlefield, but that is not always the case. Addiction Center explains that, “...about 23 percent of veteran women have reported being sexually assaulted during their time in the military.” Someone can rightfully imagine how it is when these soldiers come home to their families and are tormented by this condition. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps to explain how veterans with PTSD, affect their families. Family members can be frightened and frustrated with how much the person they care about has changed. Many members of families are hopeful that the situation at home will go back to the way it was before their loved ones had PTSD by giving them space and avoiding the subject. But some people don’t understand what their loved ones are going through and end up pushing them away when they needed them most. On the other side of the coin, the veterans with PTSD sometimes do not recognize themselves and they push themselves away from their loved ones, and these poor souls do not realize that they are trying to help them. Once they have pushed everyone out of their lives, they have no one to turn to when they need help. So they result in living on the streets, away from everyone.

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When our veterans come home, many of them end up developing addiction by abusing drugs and alcohol (resourced by AddictionCenter.) Veterans that have an addiction problem usually have PTSD or depression. The Addiction Center says, “Many veterans turn to substance abuse to self-medicate and numb their pain.” These veterans typically get these addictions from doctors that prescribe anxiety medications, which can be very addictive. Addiction Center gives a list of common medications that doctors prescribe for the veterans, these drugs are painkillers (Lortab, Vicodin, OxyContin), benzodiazepines (Ativan, Valium, Xanax), and sedatives (Ambien, Lunesta). Full drug addicts are resulted into having a compulsive drug-seeking behavior, which results in their minds only think about the next pill or needle they will take. Alcoholism is also a very common addiction among veterans. It's very easy to acquire, for the veterans that are 21 and older. Even when the soldiers come home, and are still under-aged, they can still obtain some form of alcohol; use by a friend or family member that is older or bartenders that

forgets to the card. Alcohol is also cheaper than narcotics, making it the more appealing choice when someone is trying to hide the pain, and suffering that they had to endure while protecting our country. Alcoholism may be a different kind of addiction, but the results usually turn out the same. Likes most addicts, the veterans will do anything to feed their addictions. Veterans end up selling everything except the clothes on their back, sometimes even that. They do this just to get their next bottle, or drug into their system again. This leaves them to go to the streets, and without the proper help, they need they stay there.

Jobs are hard to come by for our veterans when they come home. Some veterans entered the service as soon as they turn got out of high school, or they went straight into the military when they turned 18 years old (Associated Press.) This results in them reentering the civilian world with, maybe, a high school diploma, and no training outside the military. Many people know that the branches of the military offer degrees in a wide area of subjects, but only some of these degrees are usable in the civilian world. This results in soldiers joining the military again, rising the chance of them getting depression or PTSD. After being diagnosed with depression, or PTSD they will be shipped out of the war and discharged. Most employers will not hire a veteran that has these unfortunate conditions, leaving the soldiers without a job. John Wihbey, from the Journalist’s Resource in 2012, informs us that, “... the unemployment rate for former service members who are veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — about 2.6 million men and women — was 9.9%...”

Veterans also, unfortunately, come back from the battlefields wounded and crippled. Wounded veterans usually can’t go back to the military or get any job, depending on how severe the wound(s) are. This sometimes leaves our heroes with nothing to do but sit around, which can lead to depression, and this results in doctors giving them drugs to counter the effect. After that, veterans get become addicts and start throwing their money away to get their next fix. They leave themselves nothing, and family members start to lose hope. A lot of these outcomes end up in drugs or some form of addiction. They are hurting, and they are only human.

Not every scenario ends with our heroes on the street because of drugs they replace pain with, but because of money. Money is always a contributing factor in just about everything. When our soldiers come back home to the states, many end up needing financial help. Today’s average income for a veteran is ranged from $32,000 to $48,000, according to writers at the Recruiter. Back then it used to be $6,000 less, in 2012 (John Wihbey.) Veterans, in large cities, cannot pay much with this amount if they don’t have another job to help pay for the bills. The only hope that these veterans have is the check the government is supposed to mail. But sometimes that check does not come in time.

The homeless veteran is a serious problem in the United States. Thousand of soldiers, both men, and women end up living on the street scared, and alone (We Honor Veterans.) The sad thing is that it’s not new information to the country, we have known about them for years. We see them every day holding signs on the sidewalk asking for food. This is what they have resulted too. It is sad to see these soldiers of America have to go through their lives like that, begging for their next meal from strangers, no bed to sleep in, or even a pot to piss in. We know all about this, but most people just look away from it. They think that if they don’t pay attention to the problem, it will just disappear like it's a bad dream. The problem of homeless veterans will not fix itself if we turn away from it. We must fix this problem, and help our veterans in need because that is the least they deserve for fighting for us wherever we needed them to. We must ask ourselves. What is the best way to help them? 

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