Homelessness in America
Stable housing is one the most important things in life. When a person or a family is facing homelessness it causes them to lose hope and emotional stability. I have never been homeless so I had to investigate a bit. On quora.com a few people had a lot to say about having survived homelessness. “The list of depravation, humiliation and dangers is too long to list”. So I can understand that being homeless can break anyone’s spirit down. It causes them to feel desperation. Someone who is going through this often does not sleep well. hether in cold or hot weather. Often times not being able to maintain a satisfying and healthy diet.
Serving their country but who’s serving them?
Although everyone facing homelessness is of value, veterans experience a tougher time. Usually because over 50% of veterans struggle with PTSD or other related mental health illness. Which most of the time when left untreated, can lead to alcoholism and substance abuse. The VA reports that there are 20 million veterans living in the United States. With Florida having the third largest population of veterans at 1,525,400. Texas being the second largest population with 1,584,844 and California being the state with the major population of veterans at 1,681,730. So many have served our country and have served well. Making it very alarming when you hear the struggles veterans face in this country. Especially when they come back home. A 2013 census at the time reported that about 31,000 veterans were homeless in the United States. Making it about 17% of the national veteran population. Florida having 5,300 veterans who were facing homelessness.
Some may wonder what the VA is doing. Why veterans who have fought and labored for this country greatly, could face so many hardships once they come back home from serving. After sacrificing themselves for this country. For our liberty, for what America stands for, you would think they might receive the “red carpet treatment”. Yet many times that is not the case.
There is hope, times are changing.
Ben Carson, from the Department of Housing and Urban development just wrote a very informative and refreshing piece, published on The Homeless Voice and the Miami Herald, to name a few. He states “ending homelessness isn’t some lofty goal or simple public declaration. It involves the heavy lift of creating a system to ensure that when homelessness happens, it’s rare, brief and non-recurring”. In his piece he informs us that South Florida is within reach of ending veteran homelessness. Which is a pretty big accomplishment. Miami Dade County is one of the major cities in the US making real and sustainable efforts to once and for all end veteran homelessness. It is one of the communities, including 63 others, that are a part of this rising national movement.
Big organizations such as the Miami Dade Homeless Trust, Department of Housing and Urban Development along with the Department of Veterans affairs with the help of others, have teamed up and are already making great progress. Statistics are already showing this major milestone reporting that veteran homelessness has gone down greatly. It is quite an achievement when these major organizations can collaborate together. To make some positive changes in our communities. Homelessness in all its various forms can negatively impact where we live. People often show empathy to the homeless but cannot do anything but wish them the best and continue on with their day. It is people like Ben Carson who is a great example of those who work towards creating solutions. To solve this major problem that is afflicting our country.
Raising mental health awareness.
Many veterans might feel lost after coming back home and often come back very afflicted by their experiences. I feel they deserve a better support system as the one that is slowly taking place. Although there are many efforts taking place, many veterans cannot or choose not to take advantage of these opportunities. Due to the alarming rate of veterans who struggle mainly with PTSD. That is why along with ending veteran homelessness there should also be efforts to create mental health awareness, among the veteran community. That we are human beings and all go through things but experiencing a war or traumatic events can significantly impact an individual greatly.
If you are a veteran or a spouse of a veteran and are facing homelessness do not be discouraged! There are many resources available for you. The VA being the main resource to veterans overall well-being across the US. Miamidade.gov provides Veterans Services Program that can assist veterans, spouses, widows, parents or children of veterans regarding claims made to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs. Veterans may also dial on their phones 211 for the Supportive Services for Veterans which offer individuals who have served the chance to get permanent, stable housing. They offer case management services as well as making sure they serve veterans and their family’s individual needs. Gethelpflorida.org is also a great website to get a variety of services, especially food pantries near you.
Many judge the homeless but no one should go through sleeping in the cold night and not having a hot meal. I pray for those who have gone through homelessness or are currently struggling in the street. I pray that you can get the help you need and not be discouraged by all the bad feelings not having a home, can make you feel. For the families of the homeless you are not alone, hold onto the pride and courage that having a husband or a wife, a father or a lost one who served in this country should give you. Please reach out to the resources in your community. A simple google search at your nearest public library, may help you take the necessary steps to change your circumstances. So you can once again reclaim independence.